Amgen’s Aranesp Carrries With it Risk of Death

Aranesp, the anemia drug used to treat certain cancer patients, carries with it a serious risk of death. Johnson & Johnson manufactures a similar drug Procrit. The latest trial was an attempt by Amgen to expand the use of Aranesp to a new group of patients: those with anemia presumably caused by their cancer. Aranesp is now approved to treat anemia caused by cancer chemotherapy but not by the cancer itself.
The 1,000 patients in the trial had active cancer, meaning they were not in remission, but were not getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The goal of the trial was to see if Aranesp could reduce the need for blood transfusions, which anemic people frequently require.
The company found that the drug did not reduce the need for transfusions compared with a placebo, but did increase the number of deaths by the end of 16 weeks by a statistically significant amount.