Saturday, May 12, 2007

FDA Panel Urges Further Restrictions on Anemia Drugs Such as Aranesp and Procrit

Article in the New York Times -- F.D.A. Panel Seeks Limits on Cancer Patient Drugs, by Andrew Pollack.  Here's an excerpt:

Bowing to safety concerns, government medical advisers urged on Thursday that additional restrictions be put on the use of drugs that treat anemia in cancer patients.

The recommendations by an advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration followed a flurry of studies suggesting that the drugs, meant to help patients cope with chemotherapy, might actually be making their cancer worse or hastening their deaths.

The drugs — Aranesp from Amgen and Procrit from Johnson & Johnson — are used by about a half-million American cancer patients a year and have billions of dollars in annual sales.

Some members of the committee expressed shock that even though Procrit was first approved 14 years ago, it was still not clear if the drugs were safe at the doses typically used.

“Yes, we have a burning question,” one panel member, Dr. Silvana Martino, an oncologist in Santa Monica, Calif., said at the meeting here. “Do these things kill people?”

Here's a link to the related article from the Washington Post -- FDA Panel Questions Safety of Anemia Drug: Some Cancer Patients' Lives Feared Shortened, by David Brown.


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