Objective: Anemia is a common complication of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The aim of this study was to evaluate hemoglobin levels at the initiation of erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA) therapy in patients with non-dialysis-dependent CKD (NDD-CKD) and anemia using a large-scale administrative database in Japan. Methods: The longitudinal data of adult patients who initiated ESA therapy between April 2008 and December 2018 were extracted from a hospital-based administrative database. The primary outcome was hemoglobin level at the initiation of ESA therapy, whereas the exploratory outcome was hemoglobin level recorded 6 months after the onset of the ESA therapy. Results: A total of 4939 patients were included in the primary analysis. The mean hemoglobin level at the initiation of ESA therapy was 9.1 g/dL, which was lower than the level (11 g/dL) recommended for the initiation of treatment by the current Japanese treatment guidelines. Moreover, 42.1% and 15.0% of the patients had hemoglobin levels <9.0 and <8.0 g/dL, respectively, at the initiation of ESA therapy. In 2964 patients for whom hemoglobin levels at 6 months after the initiation of ESA therapy were available, the mean hemoglobin level increased to 10.3 g/dL, and 61.9% and 31.1% of these patients had hemoglobin levels ≥10.0 and ≥11.0 g/dL, respectively. Conclusion: This real-world database study revealed that hemoglobin levels at the initiation of ESA therapy in new users of ESA were lower than those recommended by treatment guidelines in Japan.
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