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What Is Pegfilgrastim Used For?

Pegfilgrastim is used for reducing the risk of infections in people who are undergoing certain types of chemotherapy. By binding to stem cells in the bone marrow and stimulating the production of neutrophils, the drug can help prevent bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Pegfilgrastim is not approved for use in children or adolescents, and there are currently no universally accepted "off-label" pegfilgrastim uses.

Pegfilgrastim Uses: An Overview

Pegfilgrastim (Neulasta®) is a prescription injection used to help prevent infections in people undergoing chemotherapy. It belongs to a group of medications known as granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF).
Many types of chemotherapy affect the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells, causing several of the common chemotherapy side effects. For instance, if the bone marrow makes fewer red blood cells, anemia can occur. When fewer white blood cells are produced, infection may occur. Neutrophils, a specific type of white blood cell, are particularly important for preventing infection. Having a low neutrophil count (known medically as neutropenia) significantly affects the body's ability to fight off infection (see Chemotherapy and Infections). The body may be susceptible to bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that usually do not affect healthy individuals.
Neutropenia can be dangerous in a few different ways. Not only does it increase the risk of infections (which may be more difficult to treat), having a low neutrophil count can also cause your chemotherapy to be delayed. After each chemotherapy cycle, you must wait until your neutrophils have recovered to a safe level before you can continue with the next chemotherapy regimen. These delays can decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Not everyone receiving chemotherapy should take pegfilgrastim. Pegfilgrastim should not be used in people with certain cancers known as myeloid cancers, such as acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) or chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), as the drug could make these cancers worse. Also, pegfilgrastim should only be used with certain types of chemotherapy that are likely to cause neutropenia.
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