Anemia drugs get new FDA safety plan

Remember that safety plan for anemia meds that's been forthcoming since March 2008? Well, it's finally here, after months and months of vetting by doctors, hospitals, specialty clinics and more--not to mention the FDA. The plan is designed to minimize the risks of therapy with those blockbuster blood drugs sold by Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.

Under the plan, both companies will be required to publicize the serious risks of their anemia drugs by training doctors and making sure those doctors communicate the risks to patients, the Associated Press reports. To continue prescribing the drugs, each cancer doctor who administers Amgen's Aranesp and Epogen and J&J's Procrit will be required to register with the companies.

Safety concerns have been mounting over these anemia drugs for several years now. The FDA has warned patients and doctors about the risks--most recently that higher doses may hurt cancer patients' survival prospects. Along the way, sales have fallen, though the class of drugs remains a multibillion-dollar seller.

- read the AP story
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