EMEA advises against anemia meds

European regulators are taking a stand against anemia drugs. The European Medicines Agency says cancer patients with a "reasonably long life-expectancy" should get blood transfusions instead of taking the meds, such as Amgen's Aranesp and Johnson & Johnson's Eprex (sold in the U.S. as Procrit). The EMEA guidance follows an FDA advisory committee's recommendation that the drugs shouldn't be given to cancer patients who might be cured. That's because some studies found a link between the drugs and tumor growth.

Analysts were "somewhat surprised" by the EMEA's "aggressive stance" on the meds, the Wall Street Journal Health Blog notes. No doubt it will further erode sales of the drugs, which already have taken a beating because of safety concerns. In Europe, half of anemia med use is in cancer patients, and some 40 percent of those patients could be affected by the EMEA warning.

- read the Health Blog item