R. Allan Mufson reminds alarming letters from doctors. I was testing a drug designed to help cancer patients by boosting the levels of hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood.
In animal studies and early clinical studies, the drug known as EPO (erythropoietin for) appeared to counter the anemia caused by radiation and chemotherapy. It had the potential to save patients from the need for blood transfusions. The researchers also had evidence that Epo could increase the power of the radiation kills the tumor.
But when doctors began giving Epo or related drugs, called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, a large number of cancer patients in clinical trials, it seemed deaths have increased. The doctors were worried, and some stopped their studies soon.