Erythropoietin is a special type of protein called a growth factor. It stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells. The bone marrow is a spongy material inside the bones where all of our blood cells are made.
Erythropoietin is made naturally in the body. It can also be made outside the body and used as a treatment for anaemia. Anaemia means having too few red blood cells.
Erythropoietins used to treat anaemia are sometimes called epoetins.
There are four different types of epoetin:
- epoetin alfa (Binocrit®, Eprex®)
- epoetin beta (NeoRecormon®)
- epoetin zeta (Retacrit®)
- epoetin theta (Eporatio®). Darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp®) is a longer acting form of epoetin, which can be given less frequently.