Background: Novel erythropoiesis stimulating protein (NESP) is a glycoprotein with a threefold longer terminal half-life than recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) in humans. The aim of this study was to determine whether NESP is effective for the treatment of anemia at a reduced dosing frequency relative to rHuEPO in patients with chronic renal failure not yet on dialysis [chronic renal insufficiency (CRI)].
Methods: This was a multicenter, randomized, open-label study. A total of 166 rHuEPO-naive patients with CRI were randomized in a 3:1 ratio to receive NESP (0.45 microg/kg once weekly) or rHuEPO (50 U/kg twice weekly) administered subcutaneously for up to 24 weeks. Dose adjustments were made as necessary to achieve a hemoglobin response, defined as an increase > or =1.0 g/dL from baseline and a concentration > or = 11.0 g/dL.
Results: During the 24-week treatment period, 93% (95% CI, 87 to 97%) of patients receiving NESP and 92% (95% CI, 78 to 98%) of patients receiving rHuEPO achieved a hemoglobin response. The median time to response was seven weeks (range of 3 to 25 weeks) in both groups. After correction of anemia, mean hemoglobin concentrations were maintained within the target range of 11.0 to 13.0 g/dL for the remainder of the 24-week treatment period. The safety profiles of NESP and rHuEPO were similar, and no antibodies were detected to either drug.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that NESP safely and effectively corrects and maintains hemoglobin concentrations at a reduced dosing frequency relative to rHuEPO in patients with CRI, providing a potential benefit to patients and health care providers.