Survey on clinical use and non-use of recombinant human erythropoietin in European neonatal units

Katharina Bolte 1  and Rolf F. Maier 1
  • 1 Zentrum fuer Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Philipps-Universitaet Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Katharina Bolte
  • Zentrum fuer Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Philipps-Universitaet Marburg, Marburg, Germany
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and Rolf F. Maier
  • Corresponding author
  • Zentrum fuer Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Philipps-Universitaet Marburg, Marburg, Germany
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Abstract

Objectives

Recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) has been shown to effectively and safely prevent the anemia of prematurity and to reduce the transfusion need in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants and has been licensed for this indication in Europe in 1997. The objective of the study was to obtain information on the use or non-use of rhEPO in neonatal units in Germany and other European countries.

Methods

Anonymized 14-questions web-based questionnaire.

Results

Seventy-nine questionnaires from Germany and 63 questionnaires from other 15 European countries were completed. Of the responders, 39% indicated to use rhEPO routinely or occasionally in VLBW infants, whereas 61% responded to never use rhEPO in this population. The major reasons given for non-use were lack of recommendation in national guidelines (69%) and/or doubt about efficacy of rhEPO to reduce transfusion need (53%). Twenty-seven percent of the responders indicated to use rhEPO for neonates with birth weights above 1,500 g. Neuroprotection in VLBW infants (26%) and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in term neonates (27%) were given as indications for off label use of rhEPO.

Conclusions

This survey indicates that rhEPO is used for the anemia of prematurity as licensed in less than half of neonatal units in Germany and other European countries. On the other hand it seems to be used off label in neonates for neuroprotection in a considerable number of units although there is no final evidence on its neuroprotective effects.

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