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[Image] Canada NewsWire [Image] Give us your message. We'll give you the world. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Attention News/Health Editors: NEW TREATMENT REDUCES NEED FOR BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS ONLY APPROVED TRANSFUSION ALTERNATIVE IN CANADA Video News Release/B-Roll to run at 14:00 EST, Anik E2, C Band, --------------------------------------------------------------- Transponder 6A, Audio 6.2 and 6.8 --------------------------------- TORONTO, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - Cancer patients who develop anemia, which is a deficiency of red blood cells, now have a new alternative instead of blood transfusion. EPREX(R) Sterile Solution (epoetin alfa) is a biotechnology product to natural human erythropoietin, the hormone responsible for controlling red blood cell production. It stimulates the patient's bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. EPREX is the only pharmaceutical product approved as an alternative to blood transfusions in Canada. Anemia is a common complication in cancer, and can be caused by the disease or its treatment, adding significantly to their disease burden. Symptoms can be so severe that patients may become bedridden, unable to work or perform even basic daily activities. For some patients, the frequent blood transfusions needed for their anemia have led to fears and increased stress. Recent studies have shown 20 per cent of patients receiving transfusions suffer adverse effects.(1) According to a Canadian study published in 1993 in THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY (Skillings et al), 18 per cent of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy are transfused annually with an average of 5.4 units of blood. Dr. Ian Quirt, a cancer specialist at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto says treating anemia with EPREX (epoetin alfa) can lead to an overall increase in energy levels and ability to carry out the activities of daily living. ``This new treatment keeps cancer patients' energy levels up when they need it most,'' he says. ``We have seen up to a 70 per cent response rate among patients in clinical trials and results indicate these rates get better with prolonged therapy.'' In controlled clinical trials,(2,3), 413 patients with anemia were given EPREX injection or placebo injection for periods of 8 to 12 weeks. Patients receiving EPREX therapy experienced a statistically significant increase in hemoglobin level and decrease in both the incidence of transfusion and the amount of blood transfused, compared to placebo-treated patients. Patients who responded to therapy also reported a significant improvement in energy level, daily activities and overall quality of life, compared to those receiving placebo. EPREX therapy was effective in a wide variety of cancer types and in patients with advanced disease. The incidence of side effects were consistent with the underlying disease state, with no differences noted between those receiving active drug and placebo. ``EPREX has done well for me,'' says Harvey Wayne, a cancer patient from St. John, New Brunswick. ``Prior to that I was taking blood transfusions every five to six weeks, but they weren't bringing my hemo levels up. EPREX brought the hemo up so that I haven't needed the transfusions at all.'' ``EPREX therapy is especially valuable for cancer patients because it reduces the need for blood transfusions and has been shown to improve the overall quality of life of a person with cancer,'' Dr. Quirt says. ``Reducing blood transfusions lowers the hazards that go along with them such as infections, hemolytic reactions and effects on the immune system.'' EPREX (epoetin alfa) is given by sub-cutaneous (under the skin) injection three times per week. It is also approved for treatment of anemia associated with chronic renal failure and treatment of transfusion dependent anemia related to therapy with AZT in HIV-infected patients. Additional trials are currently underway in Canada to assess the role of EPREX therapy in reducing or eliminating transfusion requirement in certain surgical procedures. Ortho Biotech is located in North York, Ontario, and is a division of Janssen-Ortho Inc. Janssen-Ortho is a major manufacturer and distributor of a broad range of pharmaceuticals used in psychiatry, gastroenterology, dermatology, family planning, oncology and treatment of infections. Ortho Biotech specializes in products developed through biotechnology. The company also provides ORTHOCLONE OKT(x)3 (muromonab CD-3), the first ever therapeutic use of monoclonal antibody technology, for treatment of acute rejection in solid organ transplantation. Ortho Biotech is also marketing and developing other technologies for treatment of various forms of cancer. ------------------------ (1) Reiger, P.T. and Haeuber D.: A New approach to managing chemotherapy-related anemia: nursing implications of Epoetin Alfa. ONF 1995; 22(1):71-81. (2) Abels, R.I., Kay M. Larholt, Kenneth D. Krantz, Edward C. Bryant: Recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) for the treatment of the anemia of cancer. RW. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Raritan, New Jersey, USA, 1991. (3) Henry, D.H. and Abels, R.I.: Recombinant human erythropoietin in the treatment of cancer and chemotherapy-induced anemia: results of double-blind and open-label follow-up studies. Semin Oncol 1994:21:21-28. Note: (x) signifies an asterisk ANEMIA AND CANCER FACT SHEET Cancer in Canada(1) - In 1995 there will be an estimated 125,400 new cases of cancer in Canada - 66,400 men and 59,000 women. - Males have a 40.2 per cent chance of developing cancer over their lifetime, and a 27.2 per cent chance of dying. Females have a 36.4 per cent chance of developing cancer in their lifetime and a 22.6 per cent chance of dying. Causes of Anemia - Anemia is a typical symptom of chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients and is most prevalent in those with advanced disease or those receiving chemotherapy. - Anemia in cancer patients happens because of a variety of reasons: - blood loss. - suppression of the bone marrow brought on by chemotherapy or the cancer itself. - infiltration of the bone marrow by the tumor. - nephrotoxicity caused by specific chemotherapy. - Anemia occurs when production of red blood cells in the bone marrow is impaired. - When hemoglobin levels fall there are too few red blood cells carrying oxygen to the tissues and cells of the body. - The resulting tissue hypoxia causes symptoms of anemia. Symptoms of Anemia - Anemia affects the overall quality of life of the cancer patient. - As the body tries to compensate for lack of oxygen it causes physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, headaches, indigestion and palpitations. - Other clinical symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite and loss of ability to perform everyday activities. Cardiovascular problems can also develop. - Psychological symptoms can develop including lack of concentration and depression, irritability and decreased performance of daily activities. Treatment - Anemia in cancer patients used to be treated exclusively with blood transfusions but these pose their own risks such as infections and allergic reactions. - According to a Canadian study published in 1993 in The American Journal of Clinical Oncology (Skillings et al), 18 per cent of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy are transfused requiring an average of 5.4 units of blood. - Adverse effects are associated with up to 20 per cent of blood transfusions(2). - EPREX(R) Sterile Solution enables patients to lead a physically and socially more active life with less anxiety, brighter moods, and an increased general feeling of well being(3). - Medical treatment should be combined with a diet high in iron, protein and vitamins. ------------------ (1) Canadian Cancer Statistics 1995 produced by the National Cancer Institute of Canada, Statistics Canada, Provincial Cancer Registries, Health Canada. (2) Reiger, P.T. and Haeuber, D.: A new approach to managing chemotherapy-related anemia: nursing implications of epoetin alfa. ONF 1995;22(1):71-81. (3) Leitgeb, C; Pecherstorfer, M; Fritz, E; Ludwig, H.: Quality of life in chronic anemia of cancer during treatment with recombinant human erythropoietin. Cancer 1994; 73:2595-2542. Physician spokespeople/Medicins conferenciers: ---------------------------------------------- Dr. Jamey Skillings Clinical Director, Systemic Therapy Program Nova Scotia Cancer Centre Halifax, Nova Scotia (902) 428-4215 Dr. Sean Dolan Deputy Medical Director Red Cross, St. John, N.B. Blood Services and Medical Oncologist Saint John Regional Hospital St. John, New Brunswick (506) 648-5070 (506) 634-1201 Dr. Charles Olweny Co-Director of World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Study of Quality of Life in Cancer Care and Acting Section Head, Medical Oncology St. Boniface Hospital Winnipeg, Manitoba (204) 235-3141 Dr. Jean Pierre Moquin Departement d'hemotalogie Hopital du Sacre-Coeur Montreal, Quebec (514) 338-2150 ou c/o Aline Lemelin, Fleishman-Hillard (514) 369-5767 Dr. Ian Quirt Division Director, Medical Oncology Princess Margaret Hospital Toronto, Ontario (416) 946-2253 Dr. Sandra Rayson Medical Oncologist Allan Blair Cancer Centre Regina, Saskatchewan (306) 766-2205 Dr. Joseph Connor Chairman, Lymphoma Tumour Group British Columbia Cancer Agency Vancouver, British Columbia (604) 877-6000 ext.2746 For further information: Walter Masanic, Ortho Biotech,(416) 382-5148; Karen Lauriston, Fleishman-Hillard, (416) 214-0701 14:05e 09-JAN-96 To view other releases from this company --------------------------------------------------------------------------- [Image]

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