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Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa), a synthetic form of erythropoietin, is used to treat anemia commonly associated with cancer chemotherapy and chronic renal (kidney) failure. Anemia is basically a lack of oxygen normally transported by healthy red blood cells and erythropoietin is a hormone that regulates red blood cell production.
Aranesp and other erythropoietic drugs, however, have been linked to serious side effects, including:
- Blood clots
- Vascular thrombosis
- Cardiac arrest
Amgen has also drawn criticism for employing some arguably dubious marketing practices. Some experts have argued these practices, mostly involving aggressive rebates, have led to the overuse of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). Amgen maintained that their marketing programs were merely intended to help Aranesp compete with Procrit, not to increase its overall use.
A congressional probe into Amgen and Johnson & Johnson's ESA marketing practices concluded that they did encourage doctors to over-prescribe this class of medications. And in March 2007, the Food & Drug Administration(FDA) required a black box warning on Aranesp's labeling, cautioning physicians to administer the drug at the lowest dosage necessary to elevate red blood cell counts to the minimum level necessary to avoid blood transfusions.
Additional black box modifications have since been issued, the latest warning of a potential link to increased tumor growth and shortened survival time in certain cancer patients.
And while Amgen has discontinued some of its rebate programs, it has replaced some of them with aggressive discounts at the time of purchase to healthcare providers who buy the majority of their anemia drugs from Amgen.
If you or a loved one is suffering from serious side effects after taking Aranesp, you may be entitled to compensation. By law, however, you have a limited time to act. contact a qualified pharmaceutical injury attorney for a legal evaluation of your case.