Voils SA, Harpe SH, Brophy GM.
Study Objective. To compare the effectiveness of darbepoetin alfa with epoetin alfa (recombinant human erythropoietin [rHuEPO]) for achieving transfusion independence and increasing hemoglobin concentrations in critically ill patients. Design. Retrospective, descriptive study. Setting. Level I trauma center intensive care units. Patients. Seventy-two patients who spent at least 3 days in the cardio-thoracic, medical, or surgery-trauma intensive care units and received at least one weekly dose of rHuEPO 40,000 units (33 patients) or darbepoetin alfa 100 mug (39 patients). Measurements and Main Results. Number of rHuEPO and darbepoetin alfa doses, hemoglobin concentrations, and cumulative number of transfusions were recorded for up to 28 days after the first dose was given, and the data were statistically analyzed. Beginning a median of 10 days after the patients were admitted to the intensive care unit, they received a median of 3.5 doses of darbepoetin alfa or 4 doses of rHuEPO. Mean hemoglobin concentrations at which treatment with darbepoetin alfa and rHuEPO were started were 8 and 8.2 g/dl, respectively (p=0.41). Transfusion independence was achieved in 44% of patients in the darbepoetin alfa group compared with 36% of patients in the rHuEPO group (p=0.63). Patients in both groups received a mean of 2.7 units of packed red blood cells during the 28-day study period. The mean change in hemoglobin levels from baseline over time did not significantly differ between groups (p=0.75). Conclusions. Patients receiving darbepoetin alfa 100 mug/week and those receiving rHuEPO 40,000 units/week for anemia of critical illness achieved similar rates of transfusion independence and increases in hemoglobin concentrations from baseline at 28 days. Compared with previously published studies, erythropoietic agents were administered late in the course of critical illness in response to low hemoglobin concentrations