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Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2006  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 365-372
Darbepoetin Use for the Treatment of Anemia in Hemodialysis Patients in Saudi Arabia


1 Department of Nephrology in King Fahad Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Nephrology, King Abdulaziz and Oncology Center, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
3 Department of Nephrology, Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
4 Department of Nephrology, King Khaled University Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
5 Department of Nephrology, Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Faissal A.M Shaheen
Jeddah Kidney Center, King Fahad Hospital, P.O. Box 11076, Jeddah 21453
Saudi Arabia
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PMID: 16970257

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Erythropoietin replacing proteins have improved patient outcomes and quality of life. Darbepoetin has a 3-fold longer half-life than recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO). In this study, we investigate the efficacy and safety of the conversion of stable hemodialysis patients from the current short-acting r-HuEPO (EPO alfa or beta) to the long-acting darbepoetin. In addition, we verified the appropriateness of the current ratio of conversion of the short acting to the long-acting erythropoietin in an open label prospective multi-center study. The study design included 12 weeks darbepoetin administration. The conversion ratio was 200 IU of short acting r-HuEPO to 1 microgram of darbepoetin. We adjusted the dose of darbepoetin to maintain hemoglobin levels between 110-120 g/L. There were 33 patients who satisfied the entry criteria. The study was conducted from January-June, 2005. The study patients included 18 men and 15 women, the mean age was 50.4 12.3 years and the mean duration on HD was 323 51.9 days. There was a significant decrease in the mean dose of darbepoetin from 37.3 12.9 ug/week at week 1 of the study to 20.8 16.6 ug/week by the end of week 12 (p< 0.00003) while the hemoglobin level was maintained within the previously defined range. The initial conversion ratio from short-acting erythropoietin to darbepoetin was 200 IU to 1 microgram. However, at the end of week 12, the mean dose of darbepoetin decreased to an equivalent conversion ratio to 361 IU: 1 microgram. This may reflect great savings in the cost of treatment. Our experience with darbepoetin reveals that darbepoetin is effective and safe for the treatment of anemia in hemodialysis patients and has a more convenient dosing schedule than short-acting erythropoietin. The darbepoetin dosage decreases over time and savings are expected to greater with darbepoetin more than with short-acting erythropoietin with time.


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