FDA Modifies ESA Dosing Recommendations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a safety announcement June 24 informing health care professionals of modified recommendations for more conservative dosing of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). FDA has made these recommendations because of data showing increased risks of cardiovascular events with ESAs in this patient population. The manufacturer has revised the Boxed Warning, Warnings and Precautions, and Dosage and Administration sections of the labels for the ESAs to include this new information.

The ESA labels now warn:

  • In controlled trials with CKD patients, patients experienced greater risks for death, serious adverse cardiovascular reactions, and stroke when administered ESAs to target a hemoglobin level of greater than 11 g/dL.
  • No trial has identified a hemoglobin target level, ESA dose, or dosing strategy that does not increase these risks.

ESA labels now recommend:

  • For patients with CKD, consider starting ESA treatment when the hemoglobin level is less than 10 g/dL. This advice does not define how far below 10 g/dL is appropriate for an individual to initiate. This advice also does not recommend that the goal is to achieve a hemoglobin of 10 g/dL or a hemoglobin above 10 g/dL. Individualize dosing and use the lowest dose of ESA sufficient to reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions. Adjust dosing as appropriate.

The drug label previously recommended that ESAs should be dosed to achieve and maintain hemoglobin levels within the target range of 10 to 12 g/dL in CKD patients. This target concept has been removed from the label.

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