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Anemia Drug Aranesp Linked to Increased Risks of Heart Attack, Stroke

Aranesp, a drug made by Amgen Inc. for treating anemia, can put users at greater risk of potentially deadly strokes, heart attacks, and other circulatory problems. Aranesp also can shorten the survival times for people battling breast cancer and other types of cancers.

Aranesp, which is known generically as darbepoetin alfa, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2001 to treat anemia (low levels of red blood cells in the body) associated with renal failure. In 2002, the drug was further approved to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia. The drug works by stimulating the production of red blood cells in the body.

Aranesp is made from human plasma collected from donors, and even though the donated bodily fluids are screened for contamination, the drug may nonetheless contain dangerous viruses and other infectious agents that can cause disease.

Patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and seizure disorders including epilepsy are considered at highest risks of serious health problems from taking Aranesp.

Aranesp Side Effects

Common side effects and symptoms of complications from Aranesp complications include:

In October 2009, 15 states sued Amgen alleging the company fraudulent forced Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs to pay for the drug that should have been provided to the states for free. The states’ lawsuit also accused Amgen of paying financial kickbacks to doctors who improperly billed public health insurance programs for Aranesp prescriptions.

 

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