FDA recommends lower doses of anemia drugs

By the Associated Press | June 24, 2011 | 12:14 PM EDT

ADELPHI, Md. (AP) — Federal health officials say doctors should use lower doses of anemia drugs when treating patients with failing kidneys due to the increased risk of stroke, blood clots and death.

The new warnings are the latest to hit the widely used medications since 2007, when the Food and Drug Administration first said they could cause fatal side effects.

The medicines — Procrit, Aranesp and Epogen — are multibillion-dollar sellers because of their ability to boost oxygen-carrying red blood cells, reducing the need for painful blood transfusions. But a study published in 2009 suggested they could double the risk of stroke. Doctors had previously assumed that higher doses would help prevent heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

All three of the drugs are manufactured by biotech giant Amgen Inc.