Longer-term outcomes of darbepoetin alfa versus epoetin alfa in patients with ESRD initiating hemodialysis: a quasi-experimental cohort study.
BACKGROUND: Adequately powered studies directly comparing hard clinical outcomes of darbepoetin alfa (DPO) versus epoetin alfa (EPO) in patients undergoing dialysis are lacking. STUDY DESIGN: Observational, registry-based, retrospective cohort study; we mimicked a cluster-randomized trial by comparing mortality and cardiovascular events in US patients initiating hemodialysis therapy in facilities (almost) exclusively using DPO versus EPO. SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: Nonchain US hemodialysis facilities; each facility switching from EPO to DPO (2003-2010) was matched for location, profit status, and facility type with one EPO facility. Patients subsequently initiating hemodialysis therapy in these facilities were assigned their facility-level exposure. INTERVENTION: DPO versus EPO. OUTCOMES: All-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality; composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI), and nonfatal stroke. MEASUREMENTS: Unadjusted and adjusted HRs from Cox proportional hazards regression models. RESULTS: Of 508 dialysis facilities that switched to DPO, 492 were matched with a similar EPO facility; 19,932 (DPO: 9,465 [47.5%]; EPO: 10,467 [52.5%]) incident hemodialysis patients were followed up for 21,918 person-years during which 5,550 deaths occurred. Almost all baseline characteristics were tightly balanced. The demographics-adjusted mortality HR for DPO (vs EPO) was 1.06 (95% CI, 1.00-1.13) and was materially unchanged after adjustment for all other baseline characteristics (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.99-1.12). Cardiovascular mortality did not differ between groups (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.94-1.16). Nonfatal outcomes were evaluated among 9,455 patients with fee-for-service Medicare: 4,542 (48.0%) in DPO and 4,913 (52.0%) in EPO facilities. During 10,457 and 10,363 person-years, 248 and 372 events were recorded, respectively, for strokes and MIs. We found no differences in adjusted stroke or MI rates or their composite with cardiovascular death (HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.96-1.25). LIMITATIONS: Nonrandom treatment assignment, potential residual confounding. CONCLUSIONS: In incident hemodialysis patients, mortality and cardiovascular event rates did not differ between patients treated at facilities predominantly using DPO versus EPO.
Winkelmayer, WC; Chang, TI; Mitani, AA; Wilhelm-Leen, ER; Ding, V; Chertow, GM; Brookhart, MA; Goldstein, BA
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