People with severe anemia usually feel very tired and sick. When darbepoetin alfa begins to work, usually in about 6 weeks, most people start to feel better. Some people are able to be more active. But darbepoetin alfa only corrects anemia. It has no effect on kidney disease, cancer, or any other medical problem that needs regular medical attention. Even if you are feeling much better, it is very important that you do not miss any appointments with your doctor or any dialysis treatments.
It is very important that your doctor check your blood regularly while you are using this medicine. You may also need to monitor your blood pressure at home. If you notice any changes to your normal blood pressure, call your doctor right away.
Darbepoetin alfa may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you have a rash; itching; swelling of the face, tongue, and throat; trouble with breathing; or chest pain after you receive the medicine.
This medicine may increase your risk of having blood clots. This is more likely in patients who use high doses of this medicine, or who use this medicine before major surgery. If you have chest pain; 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.
This medicine may also increase your risk of having serious heart and blood vessel problems such as a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or stroke. Check with your doctor right away if you start having dizziness, fainting spells, severe tiredness, chest pain, trouble with breathing, sudden or severe headache, or problems with vision, speech, or walking.
When used in patients with certain types of cancer (e.g., 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.
Darbepoetin alfa 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.
One form of darbepoetin alfa injection has an ingredient that comes 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.
The needle cover of the prefilled syringe contains dry natural rubber (a derivative of latex), which may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to latex. Tell your doctor if you have a latex allergy before you start using this medicine.
Many people with kidney problems need to be on a special diet. Also, people with high blood pressure (which may be caused by kidney disease or by darbepoetin alfa treatment) may need to be on a special diet or to take medicine to keep their blood pressure under control. After their anemia has been corrected, some people feel so much better that they want to eat more than before. To keep your kidney disease or your high blood pressure from getting worse, it is very important that you follow your special diet and take your medicines regularly, even if you are feeling better.
In addition to darbepoetin alfa, your body needs iron and vitamins to make red blood cells. Your doctor may direct you to take iron or vitamin supplements. Be sure to follow your doctor's orders carefully. Darbepoetin alfa will not work well if you do not have enough iron or vitamins in your body.