PURPOSE Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents can reduce red blood cell transfusion rates in patients developing anemia while receiving chemotherapy. We investigated potential cost savings from reduced transfusion rates in patients starting darbepoetin alfa (DA) at higher versus lower hemoglobin (Hb) levels. METHODS Two systematic literature reviews were performed: transfusion outcomes in patients receiving DA stratified by baseline Hb level and costs of
transfusion in Europe. Potential cost savings were calculated by multiplying the difference in transfusion rates between Hb levels by the midpoint of transfusion costs. RESULTS Despite differences in baseline characteristics, treatment duration and analysis technique, the clinical studies (n=8) showed that fewer transfusions were required when DA was initiated at higher versus lower Hb levels. The economic studies (n=9) showed that 1unit of transfusion ranged from 130 to 537 (2010-adjusted values). Cost savings from initiating DA at higher versus lower Hb levels were 503-2,226 (2units transfused) and 880-3,895 (3.5units) per ten patients. CONCLUSIONS Transfusion incidence increases with DA initiation at lower Hb levels. Potential cost savings depend on the number of units transfused and cost items included. DA initiation according to guidelines can reduce transfusions and potentially reduce transfusion-associated costs. Journal Article.