Epoetin alfa (Injection)
Epoetin Alfa (e-POE-e-tin AL-fa)
Treats anemia by helping the body produce more red blood cells.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to epoetin alfa, albumin, or products derived from mammalian cells, or if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin or into a vein.
- A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
- You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
- Always wipe the top of the medicine bottle with an alcohol pad before each use.
- Do not shake the bottle, and do not use the medicine if you see specks or solid pieces inside the bottle.
- Stick the needle into the rubber stopper at the top of the bottle. With the needle still stuck in the bottle, turn the bottle upside down and hold it at eye level.
- Pull the plunger until it lines up with the number of your dose on the side of the syringe.
- Gently tap the syringe with your finger to make any air bubbles float to the top of the syringe, just under the needle. Push the plunger in just enough so that the air bubbles go up into the bottle, and pull enough epoetin alfa back down into the syringe to make the correct dose.
- You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.
- Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.
- Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about any special diet. You may need to eat foods that contain iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 such as eggs, certain cereals, meats, and vegetables, or you may take an iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 supplement while you are using this medicine.
- This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.
If a dose is missed:
- Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- If you store this medicine at home, keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine, containers, and other supplies. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
- Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have a history of blood clots, cancer, congestive heart failure, heart disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy or a history of seizures, kidney disease, or a blood disorder (such as sickle cell disease or porphyria). Also tell your doctor if you are scheduled for any type of surgery.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.You may also need to monitor your blood pressure at home. If you notice any changes to your recommended blood pressure, call your doctor right away.
- This medicine contains benzyl alcohol which may cause serious reactions to infants. Check with your doctor if you are concerned.
- This medicine may increase your risk of having serious heart and blood vessel problems, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, or stroke. Check with your doctor right away if you start having chest pain, trouble with breathing, sudden or severe headache, or problems with vision, speech, or walking.
- Epoetin alfa may also increase your risk of having blood clots. This is more likely in patients who use this medicine before major surgery. If you have shortness of breath, or pain, redness, or swelling in your arms or legs while using this medicine, call your doctor right away. If you are getting kidney dialysis treatments, tell your doctor right away if you notice blood clots at your injection site. Your doctor may give you a blood thinner before surgery to help prevent blood clots.
- When used in patients with certain types of cancer (such as breast, cervix, lymphoid, lung, head, or neck cancer), this medicine has shortened survival time and worsened the cancer in some patients. If you are concerned about this, talk with your doctor.
- Epoetin alfa is made from donated human blood. Some human blood products have transmitted certain viruses to people who have received them. The risk of getting a virus from medicines made from human blood has been greatly reduced in recent years. This is the result of required testing of human donors for certain viruses, and testing during the making of these medicines. Although the risk is low, talk with your doctor if you have concerns.
- This medicine sometimes causes convulsions (seizures), especially during the first few months of treatment. During this time, it is best to avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or other activities that could cause a serious injury if a seizure occurs while you are performing them.
- Keep using this medicine for as long as your doctor tells you to. Do not stop using it without first checking with your doctor, even if you feel better.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Change in how much or how often you urinate, or painful urination.
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood.
- Fever, chills, cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, or other signs of infection.
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
- Numbness or weakness in your arm or leg, or on one side of your body.
- Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
- Pain or swelling in your lower leg (calf).
- Redness, swelling, pain, stinging, or itching where the injection is given.
- Severe tiredness.
- Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking.
- Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
- Trouble with breathing or irregular heartbeat.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or upset stomach.
- Mild headache.
- Muscle or joint pain.
- Skin rash or itching.
- Trouble with sleeping.
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013