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Other drug names: A-Am An-Az B C-Ch Ci-Cz D-Dh Di-Dz E F G H I-J K-L M-Mh Mi-Mz N-Nh Ni-Nz O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q-R S-Sn So-Sz T-To Tp-Tz U-V W-Z 0-9   

Epoetin Alfa Injection

About your treatment

Your doctor has ordered epoetin to help your body make red blood cells. The drug will be injected into a vein (intravenously) or under the skin (subcutaneously) one to three times a week.

Epoetin is a synthetic version of human erythropoietin, which is produced naturally in the body. Epoetin is used to treat anemia associated with kidney disease or caused by some drugs. It increases and maintains the red blood cell level so that blood transfusions are not needed.

If you have kidney disease, a doctor or nurse may administer epoetin after a dialysis treatment. However, it may be given by subcutaneous injections at home; your health care provider will show you what to do. This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Follow your doctor's dietary directions while taking epoetin. Foods rich in iron may be recommended. Such foods include eggs, figs, iron-fortified cereals, meat, raisins, and vegetables. Your doctor may direct you to take iron supplements or certain vitamins. Epoetin will not work properly unless your body has adequate iron.

Your health care provider (doctor, nurse, or pharmacist) may measure the effectiveness and side effects of your treatment using laboratory tests and physical examinations. It is important to keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. The length of treatment depends on how you respond to the medication.


Before administering epoetin,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to epoetin, human albumin, or any other drugs.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, including vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking epoetin, call your doctor.

Administering your medication

Before you administer epoetin, look at the solution closely. It should be clear and free of floating material. Observe the solution container to make sure there are no leaks. Do not use the solution if it is discolored, if it contains particles, or if the container leaks. Use a new solution, but show the damaged one to your health care provider.

It is important that you use your medication exactly as directed. Do not change your dosing schedule without talking to your health care provider. Patients with severe anemia often feel very tired and weak. Most patients start to feel better about 6 weeks after starting epoetin. Do not stop your therapy on your own for any reason because your ability to avoid blood transfusions could be hampered.

Side effects

Although side effects from epoetin are not common, they can occur. Epoetin sometimes causes a flu-like reaction with chills, shivering, sweating, muscle aches, and bone pain. These effects may appear 1-2 hours after an injection and usually go away within 12 hours. They may go away during treatment as your body adapts to the medication. However, tell your health care provider if any of these problems continues or worsens.

Tell your health care provider if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • bone pain

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your health care provider immediately:

  • chest pain
  • fast heartbeat
  • swelling
  • vision problems
  • weight gain
  • seizures
  • skin rash
  • hives

Storing your medication

  • Your health care provider probably will give you a several-day supply of epoetin at a time. Your health care provider may tell you how to prepare each dose. Store the vials in the refrigerator.
  • Take your next dose from the refrigerator 1 hour before using it; place it in a clean, dry area to allow it to warm to room temperature.
  • Avoid shaking the vial. Use a vial only once, and do not reenter a needle into a vial. Discard unused portions and outdated medication.
  • Do not allow epoetin to freeze.

Store your medication only as directed. Make sure you understand what you need to store your medication properly.

Keep your supplies in a clean, dry place when you are not using them, and keep all medications and supplies out of reach of children. Your health care provider will tell you how to throw away used needles, syringes, tubing, and containers to avoid accidental injury.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Signs of infection

If you are receiving epoetin in your vein or under your skin, you need to know the symptoms of a catheter-related infection (an infection where the needle enters your vein or skin). If you experience any of these effects near your intravenous catheter, tell your health care provider as soon as possible:

  • tenderness
  • warmth
  • irritation
  • drainage
  • redness
  • swelling
  • pain

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT