Randomized, double-blind, active-controlled trial of every-3-week darbepoetin alfa for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced anemia

Jean Luc Canon, Johan Vansteenkiste, György Bodoky, M. Victoria Mateos, Laurent Bastit, Irene Ferreira, Greg Rossi, Rafael G. Amado, G. Stegar, A. Neubauer, W. Aulitzky, C. Peschel, M. Hedenus, S. Hansen, W. Stewrd, B. Emmerich, A. Tomova, V. Malec, N. Frickhofen, J. J. CruzD. Bron, S. Pyrhonen, W. Hilgers, L. Bosquée, M. Clemens, M. R. Nowrousian, F. Nobile, A. H. Honkoop, H. W.A. Berenschot, M. R. Schaafsma, P. Gascón, A. Gúrpide, E. Kubista, G. V. Kornek, K. Gattringer, J. Van Droogenbroeck, P. Zachee, M. Hansen, C. Aul, A. Hanauske, S. Korsten, G. Wiedemann, P. Marchetti, A. Iop, R. Hermann, D. Rauch, M. Bargetzi, D. W. Milligan, A. Ferrant, K. Van Eygen, U. Jäger, E. Gunsilius, M. Aapro, M. Wilhelm, W. Brugger, E. D. Kreuser, M. J. Eckhart, O. Brudler, B. Anker Jensen, E. Lindegaard Madsen, A. Lozano, A. Alcala, J. Sierra, A. Lopez, J. Mäenpää, L. M. Dourthe, P. Laplaige, D. Castera, E. Antoine, H. P. Eikesdal, S. Barroso, E. Sanches, G. Birgegård, M. H.M. Kramer, M. R. Schipperus, M. Boogaerts, E. Juvonen, B. Lauri, J. Thaler, P. Sorensen, M. Smakal, P. Koralewski, P. Serwatowski, E. Simova, M. Galova, M. Kuta, M. Wojtukiewicz, M. Kalalejcik, R. Barila, S. Spanik, T. Pintér, G. Bodoky, J. Szántó, K. Leppik, T. Jogi, A. Brize, G. Purkalne, M. Bitina, E. Hotko

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95 Scopus citations


Background: In the United States, darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) is often used to treat patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia using weekly or every-2-week administration schedules. In Europe, darbepoetin alfa is used either weekly or in every-3-week dosing. The every-3-week schedule can be synchronized with many chemotherapy regimens, resulting in fewer visits and reducing burden to patients, but the safety and efficacy of this regimen have not been clear. Methods: A randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, active-controlled phase 3 trial was performed in 110 European centers. Eligible patients (age ≥18 years) were anemic (hemoglobin level <11 g/dL), had a nonmyeloid malignancy, and were to receive at least 12 weeks of chemotherapy. Patients were randomly assigned 1:1 to darbepoetin alfa treatment every 3 weeks (500-μg dose) or weekly (2.25-μg/kg) for 15 weeks. We compared red blood cell transfusion incidence among the two arms from week 5 to the end of the treatment phase using a noninferiority study design. Noninferiority was determined if the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval (CI) for the difference in blood transfusions between groups, calculated using Kaplan-Meier methods, did not exceed 12.5%, a margin based on previous placebo-controlled studies. Results: A total of 705 patients were randomly assigned, and 672 remained in the study at week 5. Fewer patients in the every-3-week arm than in the weekly arm received blood transfusions from week 5 to the end of the treatment phase (unadjusted Kaplan-Meier estimates = 23% versus 30%, difference = -6.8%; 95% CI = -13.6 to 0.1). Percentages of patients achieving the target hemoglobin level (≥11 g/dL, consistent with evidence-based practice guidelines) were 84% (every 3 weeks) and 77% (weekly). The frequency of cardiovascular/thromboembolic adverse events was 8% in both groups, and safety was comparable. Conclusions: Patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia can safely and effectively be treated with 500 μg of darbepoetin alfa every 3 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2006


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