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Darbepoetin alfa (By injection)

Darbepoetin Alfa (dar-be-POE-e-tin AL-fa)

Treats anemia caused by kidney failure or chemotherapy.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. You should not use it if you had an allergic reaction to darbepoetin alfa, albumin, or polysorbate 80, if you had pure red cell aplasia after receiving darbepoetin alfa or similar medicines, or if you have high blood pressure that is not controlled.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin or through a needle placed into a vein.
  • A nurse or other health provider will give you this medicine.
  • You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not shake the vial or syringe. Do not use the medicine if it is discolored or has particles in it. Use a vial only once. Throw away any unused medicine in the vial or prefilled syringe.
  • You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.
  • Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.
  • Missed dose: Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
  • If you store this medicine at home, keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Protect the medicine from direct light. Always store the medicine in the original carton until ready to use.
  • Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, heart disease, heart failure, a blood disorder, cancer, any infection, bleeding, or a history of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, or seizures. Also tell your doctor if you have an allergy to latex or if you are scheduled for any type of surgery.
  • This medicine can cause the following problems:
    • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and blood clots (may be life-threatening)
    • Increased risk of the cancer worsening or coming back for cancer patients
    • High blood pressure
    • Seizures
    • Serious skin reactions
  • One form of darbepoetin alfa is made from donated human blood. All donated blood is tested for certain viruses. Although your risk for getting a virus from the medicine is very low, talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Chest pain, trouble breathing, coughing up blood
  • Fast, slow, or uneven heartbeat
  • Fever, sore throat
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of your body, sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking
  • Pain or swelling in your lower leg (calf)
  • Rapid weight gain, swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Seizures
  • Unusual tiredness, weakness, bleeding, or bruising

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Cough
  • Pain, redness, swelling, bleeding, or a lump under your skin where the shot or IV was given
  • Stomach pain

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 8/28/2020

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

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