Background: The management of anaemia in chronic kidney disease (CKD) to achieve current guideline goals is difficult and is hindered by multiple factors, including problems with the scheduling and adjustment of dosing of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) and the frequency of required ESA administration to achieve target haemoglobin (Hgb) levels.
Objective: The primary objective of this study was to examine whether converting a large cohort of CKD patients receiving epoetin alfa to darbepoetin alfa would decrease the frequency of drug administration while permitting an acceptable management of CKD-related anaemia.
Methods: In this retrospective cohort study of practice in a community-based CKD anaemia clinic, we evaluated the effects of conversion of a baseline group of 283 patients from epoetin alfa to darbepoetin alfa with a goal of decreasing the frequency of ESA administration while maintaining Hgb levels within a target range. The study observation period extended for 15 months after the initial conversion. An additional 256 CKD patients were started on darbepoetin alfa during the observation period and the frequency of their injections and the range of their Hgb levels were also monitored.
Results: Following the conversion to darbepoetin alfa, we were able to increase the number of patients on once-monthly injections from 21% to 76% while keeping Hgb levels in the target range and maintaining stable blood pressure control. The mean number of ESA injections/patient/month decreased from 2.1 to 1.3.
Conclusion: In a community-based CKD anaemia clinic, conversion from epoetin alfa to darbepoetin alfa resulted in a decreased frequency of injections needed to maintain Hgb levels within an accepted target range.