The contribution of epoetin beta to the management of cancer-related anaemia over the past decade has been a significant one; increased haemoglobin (Hb) levels, reduced transfusion need and improved patient quality of life (QoL) have been well documented in patients across a wide range of malignancies. In recent years, concerns have been raised over the inconvenience and costs associated with the conventional three-times weekly (tiw) epoetin dosing regimen. As a result, optimising therapy through less frequent dosing (i.e. once weekly) has become a focus of research. The NeoRecormon Once Weekly (NOW) study compared the efficacy and tolerability of epoetin beta 30,000 IU once weekly with a standard 10,000 IU tiw regimen in patients with lymphoproliferative malignancies. The study showed that the once weekly regimen was equally effective as the tiw regimen in increasing Hb levels and reducing transfusion need. Furthermore, the response to once weekly treatment was rapid, with 1 and 2 g/dl increases in Hb level seen at approximately 4 and 8 weeks, respectively. Studies with other erythropoietic agents have also shown the efficacy of the once weekly dosing strategy. Epoetin beta 30,000 IU is now approved for once weekly administration in patients with lymphoproliferative malignancies receiving antitumour therapy, and can be administered using a new 30,000 IU pre-filled syringe. Once weekly administration of epoetin beta offers greater convenience and should reduce administration costs compared with the tiw regimen.
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