Should feds limit coverage of antianemia agents?

May 21, 2007

CMS proposes paying for darbepoetin (Aranesp, Amgen) and epoetin alfa (Epogen, Amgen; Procrit, Ortho Biotech) only to treat anemia in certain cancer patients. Still to be considered is the use of the antianemia drugs among patients with kidney failure.

In view of the fact that the liberal use of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) has been associated with some safety issues, CMS is proposing to limit coverage of these products. For now, the agency proposes paying for darbepoetin (Aranesp, Amgen) and epoetin alfa (Epogen, Amgen; Procrit, Ortho Biotech) only to treat anemia in certain cancer patients. Still to be considered is the use of the antianemia drugs among patients with kidney failure. CMS issued its proposal on May 14, giving the public 30 days to comment. The agency said it would make a final decision no later than 60 days after the end of the comment period. Click