Randomized, multicenter, controlled trial comparing the efficacy and safety of darbepoetin alpha administered every 3 weeks with or without intravenous iron in patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia. Bastit L, Vandebroek A, Altintas S, Gaede B, Pintér T, Suto TS, Mossman TW, Smith KE, Vansteenkiste JF. J Clin Oncol. 2008 Apr 1;26(10):1611-8. PURPOSE: The concomitant use of intravenous (IV) iron as a supplement to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia is controversial. This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of darbepoetin alpha given with IV iron versus with local standard practice (oral iron or no iron).
PATIENTS AND METHODS: In this multicenter, randomized, open-label, phase III study, 396 patients with nonmyeloid malignancies and hemoglobin (Hb) less than 11 g/dL received darbepoetin alpha 500 microg with (n = 200) or without (n = 196) IV iron once every 3 weeks (Q3W) for 16 weeks. RESULTS: The hematopoietic response rate (proportion of patients achieving Hb >or= 12 g/dL or Hb increase of >or= 2 g/dL from baseline) was significantly higher in the IV iron group: 86% versus 73% in the standard practice group (difference of 13% [95% CI, 3% to 23%]; P = .011). Fewer RBC transfusions (week 5 to the end of the treatment period) occurred in the IV iron group: 9% versus 20% in the standard practice group (difference of -11% [95% CI, -18% to -3%]; P = .005). Both treatments were well tolerated with no notable differences in adverse events. Serious adverse events related to iron occurred in 3% of patients in the IV iron group and were mostly gastrointestinal in nature. CONCLUSION: Addition of IV iron to darbepoetin alpha Q3W in patients with chemotherapy-induced anemia was well tolerated, resulting in an improved hematopoietic response rate and lower incidence of transfusions compared with darbepoetin alpha alone.