Injection Therapy Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia in CKD

Injection Therapy Treatment for Iron Deficiency Anemia in CKD

For patients with kidney-related illnesses like chronic kidney disease (CKD), anemia is a common problem. Anemia occurs when the body does not produce enough red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to your heart, brain, and other tissues and organs. Low red blood cell counts can lead to various bodily malfunctions. While there is no cure for CKD, injection treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and treat complications like iron deficiency anemia.

Why does anemia occur in patients with CKD?

Chronic kidney disease refers to lasting damage of the kidneys in which the patient progressively loses kidney function. In advanced stages, CKD can lead to total kidney failure without the assistance of dialysis to filter the blood or — in some cases — a kidney transplant. Anemia occurs when damaged kidneys are unable to produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), which helps your bone marrow produce red blood cells. In the absence of adequate levels of EPO, the body becomes anemic and cannot supply your body with enough oxygen.

How Injection Therapy Works for Anemia in CKD

Injection treatments for anemia due to CKD are given through a syringe under the skin (subcutaneously). This allows the medication to reach the bloodstream more quickly than with oral medications, although — in the case of anemia — it may take a few weeks before your body begins producing more red blood cells. Successful injection treatments will reduce the need and/or frequency for blood transfusions and other more intrusive treatment options for anemia.

What to Expect

When you show up for your appointment, one of our healthcare providers will discuss all potential side effects, as well as answer all of your questions. Once you feel comfortable with the information, you’ll be taken to one of our treatment rooms, which are equipped with amenities to make you feel at home during your stay — including TVs, free WiFi, blankets, and more. The total duration of your injection treatment may only take a few minutes, but we want to be sure your experience is as pleasant as possible.

Infusion Medications for Iron Deficiency Anemia in CKD

To date there are two primary injection treatment options for anemia in patients with CKD: Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) and Procrit (epoetin alfa). Both of these treatments are synthetic erythropoietic (EPO) stimulators that — just like natural EPO — enable your bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Successful treatments with Procrit or Aranesp will raise your hemoglobin levels and can reduce the need or frequency of blood transfusions.

Recently, the FDA has also approved Retacrit (epoetin alfa-epbx) for treatment of anemia due to CKD. It’s a biosimilar product to Procrit, which means that the two drugs bear no clinically meaningful difference. Biosimilars can offer a more cost-effective option than their reference product, if your healthcare provider approves the treatment.

Side Effects

Side Effects of Aranesp

The most common side effects of Aranesp include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling of the arms or legs
  • Low blood pressure during dialysis

Some side effects may be serious enough to be life-threatening — especially in cancer patients. Some of the most serious ones include:

  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Severe skin reactions
  • Numbness or weakness in your face, arms, and/or legs
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Antibodies
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Speech difficulties
  • Trouble understanding other people when they speak
  • Fainting

Side Effects of Procrit

The most common side effects of Procrit include:

  • Headaches
  • Soreness of the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle spasms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Redness and pain at the IV site
  • Joint, muscle, or bone pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Depression

Procrit may also cause high blood pressure — even if you have no history of the condition. Therefore, it is crucial for a medical provider to monitor your blood pressure as you undergo treatment.

Procrit may cause other serious side effects. Seek emergency medical care immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Speech difficulties
  • Vision loss
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Leg pain
  • Cool or pale limbs
  • Numbness or weakness in your face or limbs — especially if it’s only on one side of your body
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hemodialysis vascular access stops working

Side Effects of Retacrit

Side effects of Retacrit include but are not limited to:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Seizures
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Fever, dizziness, and cough
  • Nausea, vomiting, and chills
  • Increased mortality in cancer patients
  • Serious allergic reactions

For a complete listing of side effects, adverse effects, and contraindications of Retacrit, view the complete documentation on FDA’s website.

Seek emergency care immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms or signs of an allergic reaction. These include skin rash, itching, dizziness, shortness of breath, or swelling of your face, tongue, and lips, and could place your life at risk.

Tell your doctor if you experience any negative side effects to Procrit, Aranesp, or Retacrit. You are also encouraged to report such side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by visiting, or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

If Your Doctor Has Recommended Injection Treatment for CKD, Let Infusion Associates Help You

At Infusion Associates, we provide medically-prescribed infusion therapy for patients with chronic conditions in a welcoming and friendly environment. Our team of healthcare professionals is fully committed to making the experience as comfortable as possible for you or your patients. We always inform patients of any potential side effects and answer all their questions before starting treatment. In addition, we have a Registered Pharmacist on-staff to make the process as seamless as possible.

If you would like to refer a patient to us or want to inquire about the treatments we offer, you can contact us by calling us at (616) 954-0600 or filling out this form.