Ferric citrate may reduce dialysis patients' need for multiple medications

July 24, 2014

A medication called ferric citrate may reduce dialysis patients' need to take multiple drugs that treat complications related to kidney disease. Clinical trial results appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology indicate that the medication is safe and effective and may even help cut costs.

More than 400,000 patients in the United States are on dialysis to treat their . Most of these patients need to take medications that bind to phosphorus in their food to reduce toxic buildup of the mineral in their bodies. They also must take drugs to treat anemia, which commonly arises in patients with kidney disease because healthy kidneys are needed to generate the hormone that stimulates production. Patients also tend to be iron deficient.

Dialysis patients usually have to take 3 different medications to overcome these 3 complications related to kidney disease: drugs that bind phosphorus, erythropoietin-stimulating agents (ESA) that boost blood cell production, and intravenous (IV) iron. Julia Lewis, MD (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine) and her colleagues in the Collaborative Study Group conducted a 441-patient randomized clinical trial to test the potential of a compound called ferric citrate to bind phosphorus, increase iron stores, and reduce the usage of IV iron and ESAs.

Patients were randomized to receive either ferric citrate or another phosphorus-binding agent for 52 weeks. This was then followed by a 4-week period in which patients taking ferric citrate were again randomized to either continue on the medication or switch to placebo.

The study investigators found that ferric citrate effectively reduced blood phosphorus levels while increasing iron stores and decreasing the need for IV iron and ESAs. "Ferric citrate binds the phosphorus in food and also increases iron in the blood, and it allows patients to need less or no IV iron and medicines to make their bone marrow produce more blood cells," said Dr. Lewis. She also noted that patients on dialysis often experience many serious adverse medical events, many of which require hospitalization, and that ferric citrate was linked with fewer of these events compared with currently available phosphorus-binding medications. "While benefiting patients, ferric citrate is estimated to also actually reduce the cost of caring for dialysis patients by reducing IV iron and ESA usage, as well as hospitalizations."

Explore further: Study questions safety and effectiveness of common kidney disease drugs

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.