Anemia Drugs for Kidney Patients Cause Cardiovascular Problems
Those who suffer from kidney failure need powerful drugs to fight the anemia that accompanies the condition. But, as a side effect, these commonly used drugs may increase the risk of cardiovascular
Recent studies of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) -- drugs designed to stimulate the production of red blood cells -- had alarming results that have sparked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to control ESAs such as Epogen, Procrit, and Aranesp. The companies that market the drugs are now required to include a patient guide detailing the risks, and doctors are required to discuss the risks and get patient signatures before prescribing the drugs.
Harvard Medical School's Dr. Ajay K. Singh feels that ESAs are intended to improve the quality of life of those taking them, but "this study shows thatthese drugs ... don't show any benefit in terms of those endpoints."
Dr. Jeffrey S. Berns of the University of Pennsylvania feels that an active younger person who simply needs a boost in hemoglobin to maintain their lifestyle is an excellent candidate for ESAs, whereas for an older person who is inactive or confined to a wheelchair, the risks of ESAs may outweigh the benefits.
Ultimately, the decision to administer ESAs to patients with kidney problems should be decided on an individual basis.