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Published on 21 September 2009

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Erythropoietins in oncology – an interactive review of current thinking

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Hospira, the world leader in generic injectable pharmaceuticals,sponsored a satellite symposium at the European CanCer Organisation(ECCO) congress on September 20, 2009.

The symposium focused onthe current thinking around the use of erythropoietins in oncology.Leading oncologists across Europe were able to discuss the use oferythropoietins in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced anaemia (CIA),amid ongoing concerns over the safety of their use in this setting.

Forseveral years erythropoietins have represented the standard of care inthe management of CIA as they increase haemoglobin (Hb) levels, reducethe need for transfusions and improve patient quality of life (QoL).

“Itis important that oncologists have the opportunity to debate the roleof epoetins in the optimal management of cancer patients, and to fullyunderstand how prescribing may have been influenced amid the safetyconcerns and changes to guidelines” commented the symposium chair, DrKosmidis, Consultant Oncologist and Director of the 2nd oncologyclinic, Ygeia Hospital, Athens, Greece.

In this interactivesymposium, oncologists were questioned on how they currently useerythropoietins for the treatment of CIA in clinical practice, and howthis decision is influenced by current safety guidelines, Hb levels andpatient factors.

Safety, efficacy and quality are all keyconsiderations when choosing an erythropoietin. A recently publishedclinical trial demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of Retacrit(epoetin zeta) for anaemia in 216 patients with cancer who wereundergoing chemotherapy and at risk of transfusion.

“In myclinical experience, epoetin zeta has proved to be efficacious and welltolerated by patients” commented Professor Fruehauf of the Center forTumor Diagnostics and Therapy, Paracelsus Klinik, Osnabrück, Germany.”Biosimilar epoetin zeta has comparable efficacy and tolerability toother epoetins as demonstrated by clinical trials.”

Retacrit(epoetin zeta) has been approved for the management of CIA in cancerpatients5 and may provide a cost-effective alternative to otherestablished erythropoietins in this setting.

“Not only dobiosimilars provide a well-tolerated and effective alternative fromtheir originators, but they also have the potential to provide asignificant and much needed release of healthcare funds across Europe –it is estimated that over EUR1.6 billion per year could be saved fromthe use of five biosimilar products” said Dr Kosmidis.

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