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Filgrastim (Neupogen®): A Fact Sheet for the Public

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What is Filgrastim (Neupogen®)?

Filgrastim (Neupogen®) is a drug that has been used successfully for cancer patients to stimulate the growth of the white blood cells, making patients less vulnerable to infections, it is expected to help patients who have bone marrow damage from very high doses of radiation in much the same way.

A person who has received a very high dose of radiation may experience bone marrow destruction, possibly resulting in infection and uncontrolled bleeding.

Since March 2015, filgrastim (Neupogen®) is FDA-approved to treat those people who have received high doses of radiation.

For a physician fact sheet on Filgrastim (Neupogen®), click here.

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How does Filgrastim (Neupogen®) work?

Patients who receive very high doses of radiation will not be able to produce new white blood cells. This will lead to a drop in the number of white blood cells in circulation.

  • The patients' own bone marrow will eventually create new blood cells, but this is a slow process.
  • Until the white blood cell counts rise sufficiently, these patients are at a high risk of death from infection.

Filgrastim (Neupogen®) can speed up the process of white blood cell creation, reducing the time that the patient is vulnerable to infection.

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Who can take Filgrastim (Neupogen®)?

People may be prescribed Filgrastim (Neupogen®) following a high dose of radiation from a radiation emergency.

Filgrastim (Neupogen®) is safe for most adults, but should not be taken by people who have known hypersensitivity to E. coli-derived proteins, filgrastim, or any component of filgrastim.

Children and pregnant women should take Filgrastim (Neupogen®) with caution.

It is not known if Filgrastim (Neupogen®) is excreted in human milk; so breastfeeding women should discuss this matter with a doctor.

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How is Filgrastim (Neupogen®) given?

Filgrastim (Neupogen®) is given by injection under the skin.

For doctors, the treatment plan is to give Filgrastim (Neupogen®) daily for up to 2 weeks, by subcutaneous injection.

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What are the Side effects of Filgrastim (Neupogen®)?

The most common side effect of Filgrastim (Neupogen®) is mild to moderate bone pain.

Other possible side effects of Filgrastim (Neupogen®) include fever, diarrhea, skin rash and weakness.

Enlargement and rupture of the spleen can rarely occur in patients who are receiving Filgrastim (Neupogen®). Patients who develop abdominal pain, particularly in the left side, while receiving the drug should be evaluated by a doctor.

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Where can I get Filgrastim (Neupogen®)?

During a radiation emergency, doctors will provide Filgrastim (Neupogen®) treatment as needed.

Filgrastim (Neupogen®) can only be administered by a doctor.

More detailed information on Filgrastim (Neupogen®) can be found at the Radiation Emergency Medical Management (REMM) Website.

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