This drug belongs to a group of medications known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). Aranesp is a man-made version of erythropoietin, a human protein that is produced in the kidneys. Aranesp works by stimulating the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. It is very similar to epoetin alfa (Epogen®, Procrit®), with a few minor changes to the molecule. These changes make Aranesp long-acting. Aranesp is taken once weekly (or every two or three weeks), while epoetin alfa must be taken more frequently (usually three times a week).
Aranesp is approved to treat anemia related to chronic kidney failure in children as young as one year of age. It is not approved to treat anemia caused by chemotherapy in children. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using Aranesp in children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Aranesp for treating something other than anemia caused by chronic kidney failure or by chemotherapy. At this time, there are no universally accepted off-label uses of the medication.