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Procrit (Epoetin Alpha) (Generic Epoetin Alfa, Injection)

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Procrit, also known as epoetin alfa, is a medication used to treat anemia, particularly in individuals with chronic kidney disease, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and those with HIV taking certain medications. While Procrit can be effective in managing anemia, it is important to be aware of potential risks and side effects associated with its use. Here are some key considerations:

  • Blood Clots: Procrit can increase the risk of blood clots, which may lead to serious conditions such as stroke or heart attack. This risk is higher in patients with certain medical conditions, such as cancer.
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Epoetin alfa may elevate blood pressure, and careful monitoring is necessary, especially in individuals with pre-existing hypertension.
  • Seizures: There have been reports of seizures occurring in patients treated with Procrit, particularly in those with chronic kidney disease.
  • Pure Red Cell Aplasia (PRCA): In rare cases, the use of Procrit has been associated with the development of PRCA, a condition where the body stops producing red blood cells.
  • Increased Tumor Growth: For individuals with cancer, there is a concern that Procrit may stimulate the growth of tumors. This risk should be carefully weighed against the benefits of treating anemia in cancer patients.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to Procrit, including rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing.
  • Iron Deficiency: Procrit works by stimulating the production of red blood cells, and adequate iron levels are essential for this process. If iron levels are insufficient, Procrit may be less effective or exacerbate existing iron deficiency.
  • Worsening of Hypertension: Procrit may worsen existing hypertension, and blood pressure should be closely monitored during treatment.

It’s crucial to use Procrit under the supervision of a healthcare professional who can monitor its effects and adjust the dosage as needed. Before starting Procrit, patients should discuss their medical history and potential risks with their healthcare provider to determine if it is a suitable treatment option for them.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Procrit (epoetin alfa) is a medication prescribed primarily for the treatment of anemia in certain medical conditions. Here are some common scenarios in which Procrit may be prescribed:

  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Procrit is often prescribed to treat anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease, where the kidneys may not produce enough erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells.
  • Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy: Cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy, can lead to a decrease in red blood cell production, causing anemia. Procrit is used to stimulate the production of red blood cells in these patients.
  • HIV Patients on Zidovudine (AZT): Procrit may be prescribed to HIV patients who are taking Zidovudine (AZT), as this medication can cause anemia.

How should this medicine be used?

The dosage and administration of Procrit will vary depending on the specific medical condition being treated. It is essential to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions and dosage recommendations. Generally, Procrit is administered as an injection either under the skin (subcutaneous) or into a vein (intravenous). Patients are usually trained on how to self-administer subcutaneous injections.

Here are some general guidelines for using Procrit:

  • Dosage: The dosage is determined by the healthcare provider based on the patient’s weight, medical condition, and other factors. It is important to use the prescribed dosage and not adjust it without consulting a healthcare professional.
  • Administration: Procrit injections are typically given at regular intervals. The healthcare provider will instruct the patient on the frequency of injections and the proper technique for administration.
  • Monitoring: Blood tests may be conducted regularly to monitor the response to Procrit therapy. This helps in adjusting the dosage to achieve the desired increase in red blood cell production.
  • Iron Supplements: In some cases, iron supplements may be prescribed alongside Procrit, especially if iron levels are insufficient. Adequate iron is essential for the production of red blood cells.

It is crucial for patients to communicate any concerns or side effects to their healthcare provider promptly. Procrit should only be used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional, and the decision to prescribe it should be based on a careful assessment of the risks and benefits for each individual patient.

Other uses for this medicine

While Procrit (epoetin alfa) is primarily prescribed for the treatment of anemia in specific medical conditions like chronic kidney disease, cancer, and HIV, there are no other FDA-approved uses for this medication. It is essential to use Procrit only for the specific condition for which it has been prescribed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special precautions should be taken when using Procrit, and patients should follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations closely. Here are some key precautions:

  • Medical History: Before starting Procrit, patients should inform their healthcare provider about their complete medical history, including any history of heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, blood disorders, and allergies.
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring: Procrit can increase blood pressure, and regular monitoring is essential during treatment. Blood pressure should be well-controlled before starting Procrit, and adjustments may be necessary during treatment.
  • Risk of Blood Clots: Procrit use has been associated with an increased risk of blood clots. Patients with a history of blood clots or conditions predisposing them to clot formation should be closely monitored, and the benefits of Procrit should be weighed against the risks.
  • Pure Red Cell Aplasia (PRCA): Although rare, Procrit use has been linked to the development of PRCA, a condition where the body stops producing red blood cells. If signs of anemia persist or worsen, it’s important to notify the healthcare provider.
  • Iron Levels: Adequate iron levels are crucial for Procrit to be effective. If iron levels are low, iron supplements may be prescribed.
  • Cancer Patients: Procrit use in cancer patients should be carefully evaluated, considering the potential risk of stimulating tumor growth. The decision to use Procrit in cancer patients should be made on an individual basis.
  • Allergic Reactions: Patients should be monitored for signs of allergic reactions, such as rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing. If any of these symptoms occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should consult their healthcare provider before using Procrit, as its safety during pregnancy and lactation is not well-established.

It is important for patients to communicate openly with their healthcare provider about any concerns, side effects, or changes in their health during Procrit treatment. Self-adjusting the dosage or stopping the medication without consulting a healthcare professional is not advisable. Procrit should be used strictly as prescribed to maximize benefits while minimizing potential risks.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

  • Iron-Rich Diet: Maintain a diet rich in iron to support red blood cell production. Iron-rich foods include red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals.
  • Fluid Intake: Adequate fluid intake is important for individuals receiving Procrit. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding fluid intake.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Procrit (epoetin alfa), follow these general guidelines:

  • Missed Subcutaneous Injection: If you miss a subcutaneous injection, administer it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for a missed one.
  • Missed Intravenous (IV) Dose: For missed IV doses, contact your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate course of action. Do not administer extra doses without professional guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Procrit (epoetin alfa) can cause various side effects, and it’s important to be aware of them and promptly notify your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms. Common side effects may include:

  • High Blood Pressure: Procrit can increase blood pressure, and patients should have their blood pressure monitored regularly during treatment.
  • Fever: Some individuals may experience fever as a side effect of Procrit.
  • Headache: Headaches are a common side effect reported by some individuals using Procrit.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting can occur in some patients.
  • Joint or Muscle Pain: Procrit may cause joint or muscle pain in some individuals.
  • Pain or Redness at the Injection Site: For those using subcutaneous injections, pain or redness at the injection site is a possible side effect.
  • Respiratory Problems: In rare cases, Procrit may lead to respiratory issues such as shortness of breath.
  • Seizures: Although uncommon, there have been reports of seizures associated with Procrit use.
  • Allergic Reactions: Serious allergic reactions are rare but can occur. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing.
  • Blood Clots: Procrit use has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots, which can be a serious side effect. Inform your healthcare provider if you have a history of blood clots or related conditions.
  • Pure Red Cell Aplasia (PRCA): While very rare, Procrit has been associated with the development of PRCA, a condition where the body stops producing red blood cells. If you notice persistent or worsening anemia symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

It’s crucial to note that individual responses to medications vary, and not everyone will experience these side effects. The benefits of Procrit in managing anemia should be carefully weighed against the potential risks, and patients should communicate any concerns or side effects to their healthcare provider promptly.

This list is not exhaustive, and it’s important to consult the prescribing healthcare professional or the medication’s official prescribing information for a comprehensive understanding of potential side effects and proper usage.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and Disposal of Procrit:

  • Storage: Keep Procrit (epoetin alfa) vials or prefilled syringes in the refrigerator at a temperature between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C). Do not freeze. If needed, you can store the medication at room temperature (up to 77°F or 25°C) for up to 7 days. Protect it from light.
  • Avoid Shaking: Do not shake Procrit vigorously. Gently swirl the vial or prefilled syringe to mix the medication, as excessive shaking may damage the protein.
  • Do Not Dilute: Do not dilute Procrit or mix it with other solutions unless instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Unused Portion: If you have any unused portion of a multi-dose vial, it should be discarded after 21 days, even if there is still some solution left.
  • Keep Out of Reach of Children: Store Procrit in a location where children cannot access it.
  • Disposal: Dispose of used needles and syringes in an appropriate sharps container. Check with your healthcare provider or local regulations on the proper disposal of Procrit vials or prefilled syringes.

In case of emergency/overdose

In the case of an emergency or suspected overdose, seek immediate medical attention or contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Symptoms of an overdose may include high blood pressure, seizures, or flu-like symptoms.

What other information should I know?

  • Regular Monitoring: Your healthcare provider will likely monitor your blood counts regularly to assess your response to Procrit and adjust the dosage accordingly.
  • Inform Healthcare Providers: Make sure to inform all your healthcare providers about your use of Procrit, including dentists and other specialists.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Iron Supplements: Unless specifically instructed by your healthcare provider, avoid taking iron supplements without consulting them, as Procrit may already enhance the utilization of iron for red blood cell production.
  • Follow Prescribed Dosage: Take Procrit exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not adjust the dosage or frequency without consulting them.
  • Inform About Medical History: Before starting Procrit, inform your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, including any history of blood clots, seizures, high blood pressure, or allergies.

Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and guidelines for the proper use, storage, and disposal of Procrit. If you have any questions or concerns, discuss them with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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