Which medications in the drug class Blood and Blood Products are used in the treatment of Anemia?

Updated: Nov 26, 2019
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Blood and Blood Products

Correction of acute anemia often requires blood and/or blood products. With significant ongoing hemorrhage or hemolysis, transfusion of blood alone is insufficient. Nonetheless, providing timely transfusion to restore hemoglobin to safe levels can prevent major complications of acute anemia.

Packed red blood cells (PRBCs)

Packed red blood cells (PRBCs) are used preferentially to whole blood, since they limit volume, immune, and storage complications. PRBCs have 80% less plasma, are less immunogenic, and can be stored about 40 days (versus 35 d for whole blood). PRBCs are obtained after centrifugation of whole blood. Leukocyte-poor PRBCs are used in patients who are transplant candidates/recipients and in those with prior febrile transfusion reactions. Washed or frozen PRBCs are used in individuals with hypersensitivity transfusion reactions.

Fresh frozen plasma

Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) contains coagulation factors, as well as protein C and protein S. Its uses include the treatment of coagulopathies and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) and the reversal of warfarin. FFP does not transmit infections.


This agent is used for the treatment of Von Willebrand disease. It contains fibrinogen, factor VIII, and von Willebrand factor and can be used in lieu of factor VIII concentrate if the latter is unavailable.


Patients who are thrombocytopenic and have clinical evidence of bleeding should receive a platelet transfusion. Patients with platelet counts of less than 10,000/mcL are at risk for spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage and require a prophylactic transfusion.

The preferred treatment for TTP and hemolytic-uremic syndrome is large-volume plasmapheresis with FFP replacement. Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is rarely treated with transfusion, as the transfused platelets are destroyed rapidly. In stable patients, initial treatment is with prednisone. High-dose immunoglobulin and splenectomy are very effective treatments.

Factor IX (BeneFix, Mononine)

Hemophilia B is treated with factor IX concentrate. Recombinant factor IX currently is undergoing clinical trials (the current treatment is FFP or prothrombin-rich plasma concentrate).

Recombinant factor VIII (Advate, Helixate FS, Xyntha)

This is used to treat hemophilia A.

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