AIDS Home > What Is Epoetin Alfa Used For?

Epoetin alfa is used for treating anemia due to chronic kidney failure, zidovudine (an HIV drug), or chemotherapy. It can also be used to decrease the need for blood transfusions in people with anemia undergoing surgery. The medication is approved for use in both adults and children. Off-label epoetin alfa uses may also include the treatment of anemia in premature infants and severe orthostatic hypotension.

What Is Epoetin Alfa Used For? -- An Overview

Epoetin alfa (Epogen®, Procrit®) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of anemia. It is part of a group of medications known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). Specifically, epoetin alfa is approved for the following uses:
  • Treating anemia caused by zidovudine (Retrovir®, Combivir®, Trizivir®), an HIV medication
  • Treating anemia due to chronic kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Treating anemia caused by chemotherapy in people with cancer
  • Preventing blood transfusions in people with anemia who are undergoing surgery.

What Is Anemia?

Anemia is a blood condition in which there is an abnormally low number of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen (O2) to tissues and organs throughout your body and enable them to use the energy from food. Without oxygen, these tissues and organs -- particularly the heart and brain -- may not do their jobs as well as they should. Therefore, if you have anemia, you may tire easily and appear pale. Anemia may also contribute to heart problems. General anemia symptoms include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Numbness or coldness in your hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Not doing well in work or school
  • Low body temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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