Objectives: Anemia, defined as having low levels of hemoglobin (HGB), is caused by disease-related (e.g., bone marrow suppression, nutritional deficiency) or treatment-related (e.g., chemotherapy, antiretroviral therapy) factors. Although epoetin alfa has been shown to improve HGB outcomes in cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic kidney disease (CKD), these results have been viewed in isolation, rather than across populations. The purpose of this article is to review findings from trials that evaluated the impact of epoetin alfa on HGB and health-related quality of life (HRQL) across various populations with different underlying causes of anemia.
Methods: A review of clinical trials published in English between January 1993 and September 2005. Searches were conducted using MEDLINE and EMBASE. Between- and within-group changes in HGB and HRQL were examined.
Results: One hundred ten articles were retrieved and 18 were reviewed. Statistically significant improvements in HGB were generally seen (1) between groups for cancer patients receiving epoetin alfa compared with those receiving placebo or standard of care (SOC) (between-group differences in changes from baseline to end point ranging from 1.2 to 1.9 g/dl); and (2) within groups for HIV/AIDS and CKD patients receiving epoetin alfa (changes from baseline to end point of 2.5 and 2.9 g/dl and 2.7 g/dl, respectively). Statistically and clinically significant improvements in HRQL, particularly with regard to fatigue, were seen across chronic conditions based on the Linear Analog Scale Assessment energy scale; where improvements of at least 8 mm—considered clinically relevant—were generally seen (1) between groups for cancer patients receiving epoetin alfa compared with those receiving placebo or SOC (differences in changes from baseline to end point from 0.8 to 19.8 mm); and (2) within groups for HIV/AIDS and CKD patients receiving epoetin alfa (changes from baseline to end point of 23 and 25 mm and 28 mm, respectively).
Conclusions: Results of published clinical trials suggest that treatment of anemia associated with cancer, HIV/AIDS and CKD can have a significant impact on HRQL, particularly fatigue, and that this impact is both statistically and clinically significant.