Pharmaceutical Treatments of Anemia

May 27, 2020
Pharmaceutical treatments of anemia depends on what caused the condition. It's important to get a correct diagnostic to choose the correct treatment option.

Pharmaceutical treatments of anemia depend on what caused anemia in the patient. Not all types of anemia are caused by the same thing, which is why the treatment options vary.

Anemia is a condition that causes a reduction in blood oxygen levels. This happens when the concentration of hemoglobin, a molecule rich in iron, and present in red blood cells, decreases.

Nowadays, to fix this problem there are many efficient treatment options that you’ll learn about in this article. Pharmaceutical treatments of anemia are based, mainly, on adjusting or correcting the specific cause of the condition. Among the treatment options we have:

  • Basic nutrient replacement therapy
  • Hematopoietic stimulants
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Bone marrow transplants

What are the possible causes of anemia?

There are three main causes of anemia. Firstly, it can happen because your own body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells, which are the blood cells that contain hemoglobin. As we mentioned, hemoglobin is the molecule that transports oxygen around the body.

Secondly, it can also be caused by excessive bleeding, whether due to an injury, or menstruation in women. Many young women need to take iron supplements because of this.

And, thirdly, we have autoimmune disorders that destroy red blood cells.

Test tubes of blood.
When you have anemia, your hemoglobin levels are low.

Keep reading: Anemia and Iron Deficiency: Are They the Same?

Pharmaceutical treatment options for anemia

Basic nutrient replacement therapy

This first pharmaceutical treatment for anemia consists of taking supplements that help the synthesis of erythropoietin, which is a protein your body needs to create new red blood cellsAmong the supplements doctors normally recommend are these two:

  • Iron salts: these are more effective when treating iron deficiency anemia.
  • Vitamins: specifically, vitamin B12 or cobalamin, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, and folic acid or vitamin B9. These vitamins are needed to synthesize red blood cells.

Erythropoietic stimulants or synthesis of erythropoietin

Another of the pharmaceutical treatments of anemia is the administration of erythropoietic stimulants. These medications promote the creation of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

Generally, they’re used for anemia that causes chronic kidney failure. Additionally, they’re recommended to reduce the number of blood transfusions necessary during certain important surgeries, as well as post-operation.

Some of these medicines are:

  • Erythropoietin: This is a substance that stimulates the differentiation and maturation of red blood cells. Your body’s natural levels of erythropoietin increase when your red blood cell count decreases. However, it’s only useful for anemia with an erythropoietin deficiency, like chronic kidney failure.
  • Colony stimulating factors: Filgrastim or lenograstim, and granulocyte-macrophage stimulants, like sargramostim, are hormones that promote the growth of blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow. Because of this, they are useful in cases of neutropenia caused by chemotherapy or also during a bone marrow transplant.

Read also: The Best Remedies to Treat Anemia During Pregnancy

Immunosuppressants

These are medicines that weaken the immune system and, therefore, are useful for conditions in which the immune system attacks or harms the patient. Some types of anemia are related to poor functioning of this natural defense system in your body. Because of this, doctors prescribe these medicines to try to treat these conditions.

Various pills and vials of medication for pharmaceutical treatment of anemia.
Immunosuppressants are an option to treat anemia caused by an autoimmune disease.

Bone marrow transplant

This treatment has shown great results for certain types of anemia. For example, sickle cell anemia, which affects a considerable number of people. This disease makes the red blood cells rigid, sticky, and shaped like a sickle. Doctors have already done a specialized bone marrow transplant that was able to successfully reverse this disease.

However, in spite of the good results already shown from the procedure, it’s also important to have follow up tests to better evaluate the treatment, since it’s still experimental.

Every type of anemia has a treatment

As we explained in this article, depending on the type of anemia the patient suffers, there are different treatment options. We recommend you consult your doctor if you have any doubts, and that you decide with them what is the best way to treat your condition.

  • Shamah, T., Villalpando, S., & De la Cruz, V. (2016). Anemia. In International Encyclopedia of Public Health. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-803678-5.00018-7
  • Shaw, J. G., & Friedman, J. F. (2011). Iron deficiency anemia: Focus on infectious diseases in lesser developed countries. Anemia. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/260380
  • Blesa Baviera, L. C. (2016). Anemia ferropénica. Pediatria Integral.