Lower-cost biosimilar achieves treatment targets in cancer patients experiencing anaemia due to cytotoxic chemotherapy

Article title: BiOsimilaRs in the management of anaemia secondary to chemotherapy in HaEmatology and Oncology: results of the ORHEO observational study

Citation: Michallet M et al. BMC Cancer 2014;14:1503

Publication date: July 2014

Anaemia is a common complication of chemotherapy in cancer patients. Biosimilar epoetins can restore haemoglobin (Hb) levels, reduce fatigue, and alleviate the necessity of blood transfusions for these individuals.

Chemotherapy-induced anaemia (CIA) is an undesirable consequence of myelosuppressive chemotherapy across a large range of cancer types and is independently associated with reduced survival. However, supportive therapy leading to a successful increase in Hb response can alleviate fatigue and improve quality of life (QoL) in patients with CIA. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) such as epoetins are biologics used for a sustained correction of anaemia and the resultant improvement in QoL. This real-world, observational, post-marketing surveillance study aimed to observe Hb response/normalisation in CIA patients with solid tumours, lymphoma, or myeloma treated with once-weekly subcutaneous doses of biosimilar epoetin.


Among 2333 patients enrolled at over 200 participating centres, more than 80% of patients responded within 3 months of starting epoetin biosimilar therapy and nearly 90% of patients responded within 6 months of starting treatment. Similar results were observed for patients with solid tumours, including breast and lung cancer and hematologic malignancies. In responders, the mean time to achievement of target Hb was 80 days. Overall, 17% of patients experienced at least one adverse event, including rare cases of thromboembolism. Antithrombotic agents were required by 12% of patients. No unexpected treatment-related adverse events were identified.

Although ESA biosimilars are known to provide cost-efficiency in the management of CIA, physicians should not be obliged to prescribe biosimilar epoetin for purely cost reasons. This observational study under clinical conditions adds to the body of evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of biosimilar ESA epoetin in patients with CIA.

Key takeaway

Epoetin biosimilars have facilitated an increase in many patients’ QoL via an increase in levels of Hb within 3-6 months of starting therapy. This observational study, conducted under clinical conditions, supports the safety and efficacy of epoetin biosimilar prescription.

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