Kevin P. Keating, MD

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Management of epoetin alpha use in the intensive care unit: a drug use evaluation

September 1st 2006

This study evaluates the appropriateness and cost implications of using epoetin alpha for transfusion reduction in Hartford Hospital's (Hartford, Conn) intensive care units (ICUs), with the goal of implementing a protocol for use in this setting. We conducted a literature review to determine the efficacy, safety, and clinical outcomes of epoetin alpha for transfusion reduction in the ICU. We also evaluated the safety and supply of red blood cell (RBC) transfusions and the cost considerations of epoetin alpha. The literature review demonstrated that epoetin alpha can reduce blood transfusions in the ICU setting but its use provided no difference in mortality or any other clinical outcome. Our epoetin alpha expenditure for transfusion reduction was $112,067 annually to theoretically save $14,349 in blood transfusion costs. The pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee subsequently recommended that epoetin alpha not be used for transfusion reduction in the ICUs and requested that a drug use evaluation (DUE) be performed to monitor compliance, adverse effects, and cost avoidance. One year after implementation of the epoetin alpha DUE program, the compliance rate was >90%, there were no reported adverse events with blood transfusions or problems with blood supply, and a cost avoidance of $104,562 was realized. (Formulary. 2006;41:442?449.)

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