What Epogen is used for and how to use it
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Epogen (Ee-po-jen) – Consumer Medicine Information

Manufacture: Amgen
Country: United States
Condition: Anemia
Class: Hematopoietic stem cell mobilizer, Recombinant human erythropoietins
Form: Liquid solution, Subcutaneous (SC)
Ingredients: epoetin alfa, benzyl alcohol, albumin (human), sodium citrate, sodium chloride, and citric acid

(epoetin alfa)

Read this Medication Guide:

  • before you start Epogen.
  • if you are told by your healthcare provider that there is new information about Epogen.
  • if you are told by your healthcare provider that you may inject Epogen at home, read this Medication Guide each time you receive a new supply of medicine.

This Medication Guide does not take the place of talking to your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider regularly about the use of Epogen and ask if there is new information about Epogen.

What is the most important information I should know about Epogen?

Epogen may cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including:

For people with cancer:

  • Your tumor may grow faster and you may die sooner if you choose to take Epogen. Your healthcare provider has received special training in order to prescribe Epogen and will talk with you in detail about these risks.

For all people who take Epogen, including people with cancer or chronic kidney disease:

  • Serious heart problems, such as heart attack or heart failure, and stroke. You may die sooner if you are treated with Epogen to increase red blood cells (RBCs) to near the same level found in healthy people.
  • Blood clots. Blood clots may happen at any time while taking Epogen. If you are receiving Epogen for any reason and you are going to have surgery, talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not you need to take a blood thinner to lessen the chance of blood clots during or following surgery. Clots can form in blood vessels (veins), especially in your leg (deep venous thrombosis or DVT). Pieces of a blood clot may travel to the lungs and block the blood circulation in the lungs (pulmonary embolus).
  • Call your healthcare provider or get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms:
    • Chest pain
    • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
    • Pain in your legs, with or without swelling
    • A cool or pale arm or leg
    • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding others’ speech
    • Sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body
    • Sudden trouble seeing
    • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
    • Loss of consciousness (fainting)
    • Hemodialysis vascular access stops working

See “What are the possible side effects of Epogen?” below for more information.

If you decide to take Epogen, your healthcare provider should prescribe the smallest dose of Epogen that is necessary to reduce your chance of needing RBC transfusions.

What is Epogen?

Epogen is a prescription medicine used to treat anemia. People with anemia have a lower-than-normal number of RBCs. Epogen works like the human protein called erythropoietin to help your body make more RBCs. Epogen is used to reduce or avoid the need for RBC transfusions.

Epogen may be used to treat anemia if it is caused by:

  • Chronic kidney disease (you may or may not be on dialysis).
  • Chemotherapy that will be used for at least two months after starting Epogen.
  • A medicine called zidovudine (AZT) used to treat HIV infection.

Epogen may also be used to reduce the chance you will need RBC transfusions if you are scheduled for certain surgeries where a lot of blood loss is expected.

If your hemoglobin level stays too high or if your hemoglobin goes up too quickly, this may lead to serious health problems which may result in death. These serious health problems may happen if you take Epogen, even if you do not have an increase in your hemoglobin level.

Epogen should not be used for treatment of anemia:

  • If you have cancer and you will not be receiving chemotherapy that may cause anemia.
  • If you have a cancer that has a high chance of being cured. Talk with your healthcare provider about the kind of cancer you have.
  • In place of emergency treatment for anemia (RBC transfusions).

Epogen has not been proven to improve quality of life, fatigue, or well-being.

Epogen should not be used to reduce the chance of RBC transfusions if:

  • You are scheduled for surgery on your heart or blood vessels.
  • You are able and willing to donate blood prior to surgery.
  • Who should not take Epogen?

    Do not take Epogen if you:

    • Have cancer and have not been counseled by your healthcare provider about treatment with Epogen.
    • Have high blood pressure that is not controlled (uncontrolled hypertension).
    • Have been told by your healthcare provider that you have or have ever had a type of anemia called Pure Red Cell Aplasia (PRCA) that starts after treatment with Epogen or other erythropoietin protein medicines.
    • Have had a serious allergic reaction to Epogen.

    Do not give Epogen from multidose vials to:

    • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
    • Babies
    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking Epogen?

      Epogen may not be right for you. Tell your healthcare provider about all your health conditions, including if you:

      • Have heart disease.
      • Have high blood pressure.
      • Have had a seizure (convulsion) or stroke.
      • Have any other medical conditions.
      • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It is not known if Epogen may harm your unborn baby. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible pregnancy and birth control choices that are right for you. If you are pregnant, discuss with your healthcare provider about enrolling in Amgen’s Pregnancy Surveillance Program or call 1-800-772-6436 (1-800-77-AMGEN).
      • Are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed. It is not known if Epogen passes into breast milk.

      Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

      Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of your medicines with you and show it to your healthcare provider when you get a new medicine.

      How should I take Epogen?

      • If you or your caregiver has been trained to give Epogen shots (injections) at home:
        • Be sure that you read, understand, and follow the “Instructions for Use” that come with Epogen.
        • Take Epogen exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to. Do not change the dose of Epogen unless told to do so by your healthcare provider.
        • Your healthcare provider will show you how much Epogen to use, how to inject it, how often it should be injected, and how to safely throw away the used vials, syringes, and needles.
        • If you miss a dose of Epogen, call your healthcare provider right away and ask what to do.
        • If you take more than the prescribed amount of Epogen, call your healthcare provider right away.
      • During treatment with Epogen, continue to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for diet and medicines.
      • Have your blood pressure checked as instructed by your healthcare provider.

      What are the possible side effects of Epogen?

      Epogen may cause serious side effects.

      • See “What is the most important information I should know about Epogen?”
      • High blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common side effect of Epogen in patients with chronic kidney disease. Your blood pressure may go up or be difficult to control with blood pressure medicine while taking Epogen. This can happen even if you have never had high blood pressure before. Your healthcare provider should check your blood pressure often. If your blood pressure does go up, your healthcare provider may prescribe new or more blood pressure medicine.
      • Seizures. If you have any seizures while taking Epogen, get medical help right away and tell your healthcare provider.
      • Antibodies to Epogen. Your body may make antibodies to Epogen. These antibodies can block or lessen your body’s ability to make RBCs and cause you to have severe anemia. Call your healthcare provider if you have unusual tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, or fainting. You may need to stop taking Epogen.
      • Serious allergic reactions. Serious allergic reactions can cause a rash over your whole body, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness and fainting because of a drop in blood pressure, swelling around your mouth or eyes, fast pulse, or sweating. If you have a serious allergic reaction, stop using Epogen and call your healthcare provider or get medical help right away.
      • Dangers of using Epogen from multidose vials in newborns, infants, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Do not use Epogen from multidose vials in newborns, infants, pregnant or breastfeeding women because the Epogen in these vials contains benzyl alcohol. Benzyl alcohol has been shown to cause brain damage, other serious side effects, and death in newborn and premature babies. Epogen that comes in single-dose vials does not contain benzyl alcohol. See “Who should not take Epogen?”

      Common side effects of Epogen include:

    • joint, muscle, or bone pain
    • fever
    • cough
    • rash
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • soreness of mouth
    • itching
    • headache
    • redness and pain in the skin where Epogen shots were given

    These are not all of the possible side effects of Epogen. Your healthcare provider can give you a more complete list. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects that bother you or that do not go away.

    Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA.

    How should I store Epogen?

    • Do not shake Epogen.
    • Protect Epogen from light.
    • Store Epogen in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C).
    • Do not freeze Epogen. Do not use Epogen that has been frozen.
    • Throw away multidose vials of Epogen no later than 21 days from the first day that you put a needle into the vial.
    • Single-dose vials of Epogen should be used only one time. Throw the vial away after use even if there is medicine left in the vial.

    Keep Epogen and all medicines out of the reach of children.

    General information about Epogen

    Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Use Epogen only for the condition for which it has been prescribed. Do not give Epogen to other patients even if they have the same symptoms that you have. It may harm them.

    This Medication Guide summarizes the most important information about Epogen. If you would like more information about Epogen, talk to your healthcare provider. You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about Epogen that is written for healthcare professionals. For more information, go to the following website: www.epogen.com or call 1-800-77-AMGEN.

    What are the ingredients in Epogen?

    Active Ingredient: epoetin alfa

    Inactive Ingredients:

    • Multidose vials contain benzyl alcohol.
    • All vials contain albumin (human), sodium citrate, sodium chloride, and citric acid.
    • This Medication Guide has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.