Background: This multicentre, open-label prospective, randomized, comparative-group study evaluated the effects of maintaining haemoglobin (Hb) in pre-dialysis chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.
Methods: A total of 197 patients were randomized to start subcutaneous epoetin-alpha (SC-EPO; EPREX; 1000 U twice weekly) at an early stage of anaemia to maintain Hb at 11.0 +/- 1.0 g/dl (group A, n = 65), or to allow Hb to fall to < or =9.0 g/dl before starting SC-EPO (group B, n = 132) (2000 U three times weekly); and subsequently maintaining Hb at 11.0 +/- 1.0 g/dl.
Results: Of 132 patients randomized to group B, 55 progressed to treatment (-trigger). The study was prematurely terminated due to contraindication of the subcutaneous administration route. Mean weekly EPO doses at 1 year were 1471 U for group A; 820 U for group B; final doses were 2281 U for group A; 2099 U for group B. There was no significant difference between groups A and B with regard to left ventricular mass (-12.5 vs -9.7%; P = 0.82). In groups A and B, 48% and 52%, respectively, terminated the study because of dialysis/death, after a median of 36.3 and 27.3 months, respectively.
Conclusion: Early intervention to correct anaemia in CKD patients did not have a significant impact on LVM, the primary efficacy variable. Time to dialysis/death was not significantly different between groups A and B.