- •Consider initiating Mircera treatment only when the hemoglobin level is less than 10 g/dL and the following considerations apply:
- oThe rate of hemoglobin decline indicates the likelihood of requiring a RBC transfusion and,
- oReducing the risk of alloimmunization and/or other RBC transfusion-related risks is a goal
- •If the hemoglobin level exceeds 10 g/dL, reduce or interrupt the dose of Mircera, and use the lowest dose of Mircera sufficient to reduce the need for RBC transfusions.
- •The recommended starting dose of Mircera for the treatment of anemia in adult CKD patients who are not currently treated with an ESA is 0.6 mcg/kg body weight administered as a single IV or SC injection once every two weeks.
- •Once the hemoglobin has been stabilized, Mircera may be administered once monthly using a dose that is twice that of the every-two-week dose and subsequently titrated as necessary.
Refer patients who self-administer Mircera to the Instructions for Use [see Patient Counseling Information (17)].
Conversion from Epoetin alfa or Darbepoetin alfa to Mircera in Patients with CKD
Mircera can be administered once every two weeks or once monthly to patients whose hemoglobin has been stabilized by treatment with an ESA (see Table 1). The dose of Mircera, given as a single IV or SC injection, should be based on the total weekly ESA dose at the time of conversion.
Table 1 Mircera Starting Doses for Patients Currently Receiving an ESA
Darbepoetin alfa Dose
Once Monthly (mcg/month)
Once Every Two Weeks (mcg/every two weeks)
8000 - 16000
40 - 80
Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease
NHS: A prospective, randomized, open-label study of 1265 patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis with documented evidence of congestive heart failure or ischemic heart disease was designed to test the hypothesis that a higher target hematocrit (Hct) would result in improved outcomes compared with a lower target Hct. In this study, patients were randomized to epoetin alfa treatment targeted to a maintenance hemoglobin of either 14 ± 1 g/dL or 10 ± 1 g/dL. The trial was terminated early with adverse safety findings of higher mortality in the high hematocrit target group. Higher mortality (35% vs. 29%) was observed for the patients randomized to a target hemoglobin of 14 g/dL than for the patients randomized to a target hemoglobin of 10 g/dL. For all-cause mortality, the HR=1.27; 95% CI (1.04, 1.54); p=0.018. The incidence of nonfatal myocardial infarction, vascular access thrombosis, and other thrombotic events was also higher in the group randomized to a target hemoglobin of 14 g/dL.
CHOIR: In a randomized prospective trial, 1432 patients with anemia due to CKD who were not undergoing dialysis were assigned to epoetin alfa treatment targeting a maintenance hemoglobin concentration of 13.5 g/dL or 11.3 g/dL. The trial was terminated early with adverse safety findings. A major cardiovascular event (death, myocardial infarction, stroke, or hospitalization for congestive heart failure) occurred among 125 (18%) of the 715 patients in the higher hemoglobin group compared to 97 (14%) among the 717 patients in the lower hemoglobin group (HR 1.3, 95% CI: 1.0, 1.7 p=0.03).
TREAT: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, prospective trial of 4038 patients with: CKD not on dialysis (eGFR of 20 – 60 mL/min), anemia (hemoglobin levels ≤ 11 g/dL), and type 2 diabetes mellitus, patients were randomized to receive either darbepoetin alfa treatment or a matching placebo. Placebo group patients also received darbepoetin alfa when their hemoglobin levels were below 9 g/dL. The trial objectives were to demonstrate the benefit of darbepoetin alfa treatment of the anemia to a target hemoglobin level of 13 g/dL, when compared to a "placebo" group, by reducing the occurrence of either of two primary endpoints: (1) a composite cardiovascular endpoint of all-cause mortality or a specified cardiovascular event (myocardial ischemia, CHF, MI, and CVA) or (2) a composite renal endpoint of all-cause mortality or progression to end stage renal disease. The overall risks for each of the two primary endpoints (the cardiovascular composite and the renal composite) were not reduced with darbepoetin alfa treatment (see Table 2), but the risk of stroke was increased nearly two-fold in the darbepoetin alfa -treated group versus the placebo group: annualized stroke rate 2.1% vs. 1.1%, respectively, HR 1.92; 95% CI: 1.38, 2.68; p < 0.001. The relative risk of stroke was particularly high in patients with a prior stroke: annualized stroke rate 5.2% in the darbepoetin alfa-treated group and 1.9% in the placebo group, HR 3.07; 95% CI: 1.44, 6.54. Also, among darbepoetin alfa-treated subjects with a past history of cancer, there were more deaths due to all causes and more deaths adjudicated as due to cancer, in comparison with the control group.
Patients with Cancer
An increased incidence of thromboembolic reactions, some serious and life-threatening, occurred in patients with cancer treated with ESAs.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled study (Study 1 in Table 3 [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]) of 939 women with metastatic breast cancer receiving chemotherapy, patients received either weekly epoetin alfa or placebo for up to a year. This study was designed to show that survival was superior when epoetin alfa was administered to prevent anemia (maintain hemoglobin levels between 12 and 14 g/dL or hematocrit between 36% and 42%). This study was terminated prematurely when interim results demonstrated a higher mortality at 4 months (8.7% vs. 3.4%) and a higher rate of fatal thrombotic reactions (1.1% vs. 0.2%) in the first 4 months of the study among patients treated with epoetin alfa. Based on Kaplan-Meier estimates, at the time of study termination, the 12-month survival was lower in the epoetin alfa group than in the placebo group (70% vs. 76%; HR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.75; p = 0.012).
Patients Having Surgery
Mircera is not approved for reduction of RBC transfusions in patients scheduled for surgical procedures.
An increased incidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in patients receiving epoetin alfa undergoing surgical orthopedic procedures has been observed. In a randomized controlled study (referred to as the "SPINE" study), 681 adult patients, not receiving prophylactic anticoagulation and undergoing spinal surgery, received epoetin alfa and standard of care (SOC) treatment, or SOC treatment alone. Preliminary analysis showed a higher incidence of DVT, determined by either Color Flow Duplex Imaging or by clinical symptoms, in the epoetin alfa group [16 patients (4.7%)] compared to the SOC group [7 patients (2.1%)]. In addition, 12 patients in the epoetin alfa group and 7 patients in the SOC group had other thrombotic vascular events.
Increased mortality was observed in a randomized placebo-controlled study of epoetin alfa in adult patients who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery (7 deaths in 126 patients randomized to epoetin alfa versus no deaths among 56 patients receiving placebo). Four of these deaths occurred during the period of study drug administration and all four deaths were associated with thrombotic events.
Decreased overall survival:
Cancer Study 1 (the "BEST" study) was previously described [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]. Mortality at 4 months (8.7% vs. 3.4%) was significantly higher in the epoetin alfa arm. The most common investigator-attributed cause of death within the first 4 months was disease progression; 28 of 41 deaths in the epoetin alfa arm and 13 of 16 deaths in the placebo arm were attributed to disease progression. Investigator assessed time to tumor progression was not different between the two groups. Survival at 12 months was significantly lower in the epoetin alfa arm (70% vs. 76%, HR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.75; p=0.012).
Cancer Study 2 was a Phase 3, double-blind, randomized (darbepoetin alfa vs. placebo) study conducted in 344 anemic patients with lymphoid malignancy receiving chemotherapy. With a median follow-up of 29 months, overall mortality rates were significantly higher among patients randomized to darbepoetin alfa as compared to placebo (HR 1.36, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.82).
Cancer Study 7 was a Phase 3, multicenter, randomized (epoetin alfa vs. placebo), double-blind study, in which patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer receiving only palliative radiotherapy or no active therapy were treated with epoetin alfa to achieve and maintain hemoglobin levels between 12 and 14 g/dL. Following an interim analysis of 70 of 300 patients planned, a significant difference in survival in favor of the patients on the placebo arm of the trial was observed (median survival 63 vs. 129 days; HR 1.84; p=0.04).
Cancer Study 8 was a Phase 3, double-blind, randomized (darbepoetin alfa vs. placebo), 16-week study in 989 anemic patients with active malignant disease, neither receiving nor planning to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy. There was no evidence of a statistically significant reduction in proportion of patients receiving RBC transfusions. The median survival was shorter in the darbepoetin alfa treatment group (8 months) compared with the placebo group (10.8 months); HR 1.30, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.57.
Decreased progression-free survival and overall survival:
Cancer Study 3 (the "PREPARE" study) was a randomized controlled study in which darbepoetin alfa was administered to prevent anemia conducted in 733 women receiving neo-adjuvant breast cancer treatment. A final analysis was performed after a median follow-up of approximately 3 years at which time the survival rate was lower (86% vs. 90%, HR 1.42, 95% CI: 0.93, 2.18) and relapse-free survival rate was lower (72% vs. 78%, HR 1.33, 95% CI: 0.99, 1.79) in the darbepoetin alfa-treated arm compared to the control arm.
Cancer Study 4 (protocol GOG 191) was a randomized controlled study that enrolled 114 of a planned 460 cervical cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Patients were randomized to receive epoetin alfa to maintain hemoglobin between 12 and 14 g/dL or to transfusion support as needed. The study was terminated prematurely due to an increase in thromboembolic events in epoetin alfa-treated patients compared to control (19% vs. 9%). Both local recurrence (21% vs. 20%) and distant recurrence (12% vs. 7%) were more frequent in epoetin alfa-treated patients compared to control. Progression-free survival at 3 years was lower in the epoetin alfa-treated group compared to control (59% vs. 62%, HR 1.06, 95% CI: 0.58, 1.91). Overall survival at 3 years was lower in the epoetin alfa-treated group compared to control (61% vs. 71%, HR 1.28, 95% CI: 0.68, 2.42).
Cancer Study 5 (the "ENHANCE" study) was a randomized controlled study in 351 head and neck cancer patients where epoetin beta or placebo was administered to achieve target hemoglobins of 14 and 15 g/dL for women and men, respectively. Locoregional progression-free survival was significantly shorter in patients receiving epoetin beta (HR 1.62, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.14, p=0.0008) with a median of 406 days epoetin beta vs. 745 days placebo. Overall survival was significantly shorter in patients receiving epoetin beta (HR 1.39, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.84; p=0.02).
Decreased locoregional control:
Cancer Study 6 (DAHANCA 10) was conducted in 522 patients with primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck receiving radiation therapy randomized to darbepoetin alfa with radiotherapy or radiotherapy alone. An interim analysis on 484 patients demonstrated that locoregional control at 5 years was significantly shorter in patients receiving darbepoetin alfa (RR 1.44, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.96; p=0.02). Overall survival was shorter in patients receiving darbepoetin alfa (RR 1.28, 95% CI: 0.98, 1.68; p=0.08).
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Mircera should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
When methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta was administered subcutaneously to rats and rabbits during gestation, bone malformation was observed in both species at 50 mcg/kg once every three days. This effect was observed as missing caudal vertebrae resulting in a thread-like tail in one rat fetus, absent first digit metacarpal and phalanx on each forelimb resulting in absent pollex in one rabbit fetus, and fused fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae centra in another rabbit fetus. Dose-related reduction in fetal weights was observed in both rats and rabbits. At doses 5 mcg/kg once every three days and higher, methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta caused exaggerated pharmacodynamic effects in dams. Once-weekly doses of methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta up to 50 mcg/kg/dose given to pregnant rats did not adversely affect pregnancy parameters, natural delivery or litter observations. Increased deaths and significant reduction in the growth rate of the F1 generation were observed during lactation and early post weaning period. However, no remarkable effect on reflex, physical and cognitive development or reproductive performance was observed in F1 generation of any dose groups.
Patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis: ESA effects on rates of transfusion
In early clinical studies conducted in CKD patients on dialysis, ESAs have been shown to reduce the use of RBC transfusions. These studies enrolled patients with mean baseline hemoglobin levels of approximately 7.5 g/dL and ESAs were generally titrated to achieve a hemoglobin level of approximately 12 g/dL. Fewer transfusions were given during the ESA treatment period when compared to a pre-treatment interval.
In NHS, the yearly transfusion rate was 51.5% in the lower hemoglobin group (10 g/dL) and 32.4% in the higher hemoglobin group (14 g/dL).
Patients with chronic kidney disease not on dialysis: ESA effects on rates of transfusion
In TREAT, a randomized, double-blind trial of 4038 patients with CKD and type 2 diabetes not on dialysis, a post-hoc analysis showed that the proportion of patients receiving RBC transfusions was lower in patients administered an ESA to target a hemoglobin of 13 g/dL compared to the control arm in which the ESA was administered intermittently if hemoglobin concentration decreased to less than 9 g/dL (15% versus 25%, respectively). In CHOIR, a randomized open-label study of 1432 patients with CKD not on dialysis, use of an ESA to target a higher (13.5 g/dL) versus lower (11.3 g/dL) hemoglobin goal did not reduce the use of RBC transfusions. In each trial, no benefits occurred for the cardiovascular or end-stage renal disease outcomes. In each trial, the potential benefit of ESA therapy was offset by worse cardiovascular safety outcomes resulting in an unfavorable benefit-risk profile [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
ESA effects on quality of life
Mircera use has not been demonstrated in controlled clinical trials to improve quality of life, fatigue, or patient well-being.
ESA effects on rates of death and other serious cardiac adverse events
Three randomized outcome trials (NHS, CHOIR and TREAT) have been conducted in patients with CKD using Epogen/PROCRIT/Aranesp to target higher vs. lower hemoglobin levels. Though these trials were designed to establish a cardiovascular or renal benefit of targeting higher hemoglobin levels, in all 3 studies, patients randomized to the higher hemoglobin target experienced worse cardiovascular outcomes and showed no reduction in progression to ESRD. In each trial, the potential benefit of ESA therapy was offset by worse cardiovascular safety outcomes resulting in an unfavorable benefit-risk profile [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
Other ESA trials
The efficacy and safety of Mircera were assessed in six open-label, multi-center clinical studies that randomized patients to either Mircera or a comparator ESA. Two studies evaluated anemic patients with CKD who were not treated with an ESA at baseline and four studies evaluated patients who were receiving an ESA for treatment of the anemia of CKD. In all studies, patients were assessed as clinically stable at baseline and without evidence of infection or inflammation as determined by history and laboratory data, including C-reactive protein (CRP ≤ 15 mg/L for study 1 and CRP ≤ 30 mg/L for studies 2 to 6). A CRP value above the threshold led to the exclusion of no more than 3% of the screened patients.
In the clinical studies, ESAs were administered to achieve specific hemoglobin levels (see Table 5 and Table 6). Following stabilization of hemoglobin levels (12 g/dL), the median monthly Mircera dose was 150 mcg (range of 97 mcg to 270 mcg).
Patients Not Currently Treated with an ESA
In Study 1 patients who were not receiving dialysis were randomized to Mircera or darbepoetin alfa, administered for 28 weeks. The starting dose of Mircera was 0.6 mcg/kg administered SC once every two weeks and the starting dose of darbepoetin alfa was 0.45 mcg/kg administered SC once a week. In Study 2, patients who were receiving dialysis were randomized to Mircera or another ESA (epoetin alfa or epoetin beta), administered for 24 weeks. The starting dose of Mircera was 0.4 mcg/kg administered IV once every two weeks and the starting dose of the comparator was administered IV three times a week, consistent with the product's recommended dose. In these studies, the observed median dose of Mircera once every two weeks over the course of the correction/evaluation period was 0.6 mcg/kg. Table 5 provides the results of the two studies.
Table 5 Clinical Studies in Patients Not Currently Treated with an ESA
|Percent Achieving Goal|
Goal: hemoglobin increase of at least 1 g/dL and to a level of at least 11 g/dL without RBC transfusion; hemoglobin levels were to be maintained within the range of 11 to 13 g/dL. (95% CI)
|Mean Hemoglobin Change from Baseline (g/dL)||RBC Transfusion, %|
98 (94, 99)
96 (92, 99)
93 (88, 97)
91 (79, 98)
Patients Currently Treated with an ESA
Four studies assessed the ability of Mircera to maintain hemoglobin concentrations among patients currently treated with other ESAs. Patients were randomized to receive Mircera administrations either once every two weeks or once every four weeks, or to continue their current ESA dose and schedule. The initial Mircera dose was determined based on the patient's previous weekly ESA dose. As shown in Table 6, treatment with Mircera once every two weeks and once every four weeks maintained hemoglobin concentrations within the targeted hemoglobin range (10 to 13.5 g/dL).
Table 6 Clinical Studies in Patients Currently Treated with an ESA
|Mean Baseline Hemoglobin||Evaluation Period Hemoglobin (Mean)||Between-group Difference |
Mircera versus comparator mean hemoglobin difference in the evaluation period; 97.5% CI are shown for studies that compared two Mircera groups to another ESA (Studies 3 and 4) and 95% CI are shown for the other studies.,
n/a = not applicable
g/dL (95% or 97.5% CI)
Mircera IV every 2 weeks
0.0 (−0.2, 0.2)
Mircera IV every 4 weeks
0.1 (−0.2, 0.3)
Epoetin alfa/beta IV
Mircera SC every 2 weeks
0.1 (−0.1, 0.4)
Mircera SC every 4 weeks
−0.0 (−0.3, 0.2)
Epoetin beta SC
Mircera IV every 2 weeks
0.2 (−0.0, 0.4)
Darbepoetin alfa IV
Mircera IV/SC every 2 weeks
0.1 (−0.1, 0.4)
Epoetin alfa IV/SC
0.1 (−0.1, 0.4)