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How is Aransep used for the treatment of Anemia?

by gmeredith430


Aranesp is a prescription medicine that is used to treat anemia. People with anemia have a lower-than-normal number of RBCs(red blood cells).  The epidemiology behind this drug is that it works like the human protein called erythropoietin that helps our body to make more RBCs. The sole purpose that this drug gets administered is to reduce or avoid the need for RBC transfusions.  

Aranesp (trade name for darbepoetin alfa) is a medicine prescribed by doctors to treat anemia associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and symptomatic anemia associated with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Anemia is caused due to chemotherapy cancer treatment.

It has been highlighted that there is always a higher risk of developing adverse cardiovascular reactions when Aranesp was administered. To learn a bit more about Aranesp’s side effects, click here.    

What are the limitations in the use of Aranesp?

The use of Aranesp has not shown to contribute significantly to improving quality of life or patient well being

This drug is not indicated for use;

  • In patients with cancer receiving hormonal agents, biologic products, or radiotherapy, unless also receiving concomitant myelosuppressive chemotherapy.  
  • The sick receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy when the anticipated outcome is a cure
  • People with cancer receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy in whom anemia can be managed by transfusion
  • As a substitute for RBC transfusions in patients who require immediate correction of anemia 

Approval of Aranesp and other ESAs 

There is no dearth of information in clinical studies done until now, indicating adverse side effects of Aranesp and other ESAs( Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents). Even though these drugs have been said to reduce the number of blood transfusions after certain major surgeries.

In 2017, FDA determined that the ESA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which was limited to the use of Epogen/Procrit and Aranesp to treat patients with anemia due to associated myelosuppressive chemotherapy, is no longer required to ensure the benefits of  Epogen/Procrit and Aranesp outweigh its risks of shortened overall survival and /increased risk tumor progression or recurrence in patients with cancer.   

This information led the FDA to conclude that it is no longer a requirement for certification from prescribers and hospitals that prescribe and/dispense ESAs to patients with cancer to ensure benefits outweigh the risks.

What is the mechanism behind Arava medication?

Leflunomide (Arava medication) is an immunosuppressive disease-modifying antirheumatic drug used in active moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. It is a pyrimidine synthesis inhibitor that works by inhibiting dihydroorotate dehydrogenase.  Administering Arava has serious side effects. To learn a bit more about who should not take Arava, click here.   

What Is Arava? What Are Arava Side Effects?

Arava is a brand-name prescription drug to treat active rheumatoid arthritis. A condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the joints, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain. The active ingredient in Arava, leflunomide, suppresses the immune system’s ability to produce antibodies and reduces the body’s attack on the joints.

Arava side effects may include:

  • Allergic Reactions Like Skin Rash, Itching Or Hives, Swelling Of The Face, Lips, Or Tongue
  • Breathing Problems
  • Cough
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Low Blood Counts This Medicine May Decrease The Number Of White Blood Cells And Platelets. You May Be At Increased Risk For Infections And Bleeding.
  • Pain, Tingling, Numbness In The Hands Or Feet
  • Rash, Fever, And Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Redness, Blistering, Peeing Or Loosening Of The Skin, Including Inside The Mouth
  • Signs Of Decreased Platelets Or Bleeding Bruising, Pinpoint Red Spots On The Skin, Black, Tarry Stools, Blood In Urine
  • Infection Fever Or Chills, Cough, Sore Throat, Pain Or Trouble Passing Urine
  • Symptoms Of Liver Injury Like Dark Yellow Or Brown Urine; General Ill Feeling Or FluLike Symptoms; LightColored Stools; Loss Of Appetite; Nausea; Right Upper Belly Pain; Unusually Weak Or Tired; Yellowing Of The Eyes Or Skin
  • Trouble Passing Urine Or Change In The Amount Of Urine
  • Vomiting

For more information on Arava’s side effects, read here.


The use of  Aranesp and other ESAs comes with specific warnings and also regarding Dosage. As patients have complained about experiencing adverse side effects, patients undergoing cancer treatment must sign a patient-healthcare provider acknowledgment form.  

The drug causes the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. The treatment effectively treats anemia, we should take certain precautions to take medicine. 

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