Roxadustat (FG-4592) Versus Epoetin Alfa for Anemia in Patients Receiving Maintenance Hemodialysis: A Phase 2, Randomized, 6- to 19-Week, Open-Label, Active-Comparator, Dose-Ranging, Safety and Exploratory Efficacy Study

Am J Kidney Dis. 2016 Jun;67(6):912-24. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2015.12.020. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Background: Roxadustat (FG-4592) is an oral hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl-hydroxylase inhibitor that promotes erythropoiesis through increasing endogenous erythropoietin, improving iron regulation, and reducing hepcidin.

Study design: Phase 2, randomized (3:1), open-label, active-comparator, safety and efficacy study.

Setting & participants: Patients with stable end-stage renal disease treated with hemodialysis who previously had hemoglobin (Hb) levels maintained with epoetin alfa.

Intervention: Part 1: 6-week dose-ranging study in 54 individuals of thrice-weekly oral roxadustat doses versus continuation of intravenous epoetin alfa. Part 2: 19-week treatment in 90 individuals in 6 cohorts with various starting doses and adjustment rules (1.0-2.0mg/kg or tiered weight based) in individuals with a range of epoetin alfa responsiveness. Intravenous iron was prohibited.

Outcomes: Primary end point was Hb level response, defined as end-of-treatment Hb level change (ΔHb) of -0.5g/dL or greater from baseline (part 1) and as mean Hb level ≥ 11.0g/dL during the last 4 treatment weeks (part 2).

Measurements: Hepcidin, iron parameters, cholesterol, and plasma erythropoietin (the latter in a subset).

Results: Baseline epoetin alfa doses were 138.3±51.3 (SD) and 136.3±47.7U/kg/wk in part 1 and 152.8±80.6 and 173.4±83.7U/kg/wk in part 2, in individuals randomly assigned to roxadustat and epoetin alfa, respectively. Hb level responder rates in part 1 were 79% in pooled roxadustat 1.5 to 2.0mg/kg compared to 33% in the epoetin alfa control arm (P=0.03). Hepcidin level reduction was greater at roxadustat 2.0mg/kg versus epoetin alfa (P<0.05). In part 2, the average roxadustat dose requirement for Hb level maintenance was ∼1.7mg/kg. The least-squares-mean ΔHb in roxadustat-treated individuals was comparable to that in epoetin alfa-treated individuals (about -0.5g/dL) and the least-squares-mean difference in ΔHb between both treatment arms was -0.03 (95% CI, -0.39 to 0.33) g/dL (mixed effect model-repeated measure). Roxadustat significantly reduced mean total cholesterol levels, not observed with epoetin alfa. No safety concerns were raised.

Limitations: Short treatment duration and small sample size.

Conclusions: In this phase 2 study of anemia therapy in patients with end-stage renal disease on maintenance hemodialysis therapy, roxadustat was well tolerated and effectively maintained Hb levels.

Keywords: Hb correction; Hb maintenance; Hb response; Hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl-hydroxylase inhibitor (HIF-PHI); anemia; chronic kidney disease (CKD); dialysis; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); erythropoiesis; erythropoietin; hemoglobin (Hb); hepcidin; iron transport; randomized trial; roxadustat.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Epoetin Alfa / administration & dosage
  • Epoetin Alfa / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Glycine / administration & dosage
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / therapeutic use
  • Hematinics / administration & dosage
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines / administration & dosage
  • Isoquinolines / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Hematinics
  • Isoquinolines
  • Epoetin Alfa
  • Glycine
  • roxadustat