First Word Pharma carries word of a health warning issued to cancer patients and their healthcare professionals regarding Aranesp; as the drug now carries the risk of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, as well as other severe side effects.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition, and use of Aranesp should be discontinued immediately if SJS symptoms develop. Patients may at first exhibit flu-like symptoms such as fever, exhaustion, and muscle and joint pain. Those signs can be followed by widespread rash, reddening blisters, and additional moisture in the mouth, eyes, nose, throat, and around the genitals. The skin may also peel and shed as it would with someone who has suffered a severe burn.
The Mayo Clinic states that Stevens-Johnson syndrome is “a rare and unpredictable reaction” that can happen while using the medication, or up to two weeks after. As of April 2017, eleven cases of the disease have been confirmed internationally in cancer patients who have been treated with Aranesp.
Aranesp is an intravenous prescription medication intended for those who suffer from chronic kidney disease or anemia associated with chemotherapy. According to the FDA, it “has not been shown to improve quality of life, fatigue, or well-being.” The same communication about the drug details how it carries the potential for other severe side effects such as high blood pressure, seizure, allergic reactions, shortness of breath, and edema or swelling of the limbs.
The discovery of a possible link to Stevens-Johnson syndrome adds a level of public danger to a powerful drug that, until now, has largely stayed out of the public eye from a safety and marketing standpoint. Complications that arise from Stevens-Johnson syndrome can progress quickly and can cause permanent damage. They include scarring, abnormal skin coloring, acute respiratory failure, visual impairment and blindness, cellulitis, and sepsis.
Thanks to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, patients now have access to an evaluation tool that weighs the cost and benefits of given cancer treatments like Aranesp. The tool looks at five measurable aspects of what treatments are available and rates them, making it much easier for the patient and their medical team to make educated decisions regarding care. These aspects include price, effectiveness, safety, quality, and consistency of clinical data.
Patients who suspect they have contracted Stevens-Johnson syndrome should speak with their medical professionals immediately. The condition can severely impact quality of life, thus making recovery and treatment for cancer even more painful and harrowing.