Health Alert: Procrit for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

(Columbia) Aug. 27, 2003 - At work Toni Cueto is an overachiever, "I'd always get my work done, ask for more work."

But, five years ago she lost her energy and her desire to work. After failing her real estate exam, she knew something was wrong, "I just didn't have that quote, 'Get up and go,' that I normally have."

Through extensive testing doctors at the University of Miami diagnosed Toni with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There is no known cause or cure for CFS, thought doctors like Dr. Barry Hurwitz now think the condition is linked to a decrease in red blood cells, "Because the red blood cell transports oxygen and glucose to the cells, it's vitally important in providing these nutrients. Without it we feel fatigued."

Dr. Hurwitz and his colleagues are studying the drug Procrit to help patients like Toni. The drug is typically used in cancer patients, but in CFS patients Procrit raises red blood cell volume by triggering a hormone in the kidneys, "Some people have shown remarkable improvement and have gone back to work, and in others it's been less effective."

Toni says Procrit is working for her. She got her real estate license, and she's already doubled last year's sales, "I've got my life back. I'm working full time. I'm enjoying life."

Researchers say 85 to 90 percent of the people living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are undiagnosed. Symptoms of DFS include extreme exhaustion, muscle pain, insomnia and impaired memory.

posted 2:01pm by Chris Rees