Hydroxyethyl Starch Solutions: FDA Safety Communication - Boxed Warning on Increased Mortality and Severe Renal Injury and Risk of Bleeding

June 24, 2013

Audience: Critical Care Medicine, Nephrology, Patient, Pharmacy, Health Professional

ISSUE: FDA has analyzed recent data that indicate an increased risk of (i) mortality and renal injury requiring renal replacement therapy in critically ill adult patients, including patients with sepsis and those admitted to the ICU; and (ii) excess bleeding particularly in patients undergoing open heart surgery in association with cardiopulmonary bypass. Refer to the FDA Safety Communication for more details about the data analysis. 

FDA has concluded that HES solutions should not be used in critically ill adult patients, including patients with sepsis and those admitted to the ICU, and a Boxed Warning to include the risk of mortality and severe renal injury is warranted. In addition, FDA has reviewed a meta-analysis of studies conducted in patients undergoing open heart surgery in association with cardiopulmonary bypass and has determined that an additional warning about excessive bleeding is needed in the Warnings and Precautions Section of the package insert.

BACKGROUND:  Hydroxyethyl starch (HES) solutions are used for the treatment of hypovolemia (low blood volume) when plasma volume expansion is desired. Recent data have associated the use of these products with an increased risk of severe adverse events when used in certain patient populations.

RECOMMENDATION: Patients should be aware of the risks associated with the use of HES solutions and discuss these risks with their healthcare provider (refer to the FDA Safety Communication for detailed recommendations for patients). 

Recommendations for Health Professionals include the following:

  • Do not use HES solutions in critically ill adult patients including those with sepsis, and those admitted to the ICU.
  • Avoid use in patients with pre-existing renal dysfunction.
  • Discontinue use of HES at the first sign of renal injury.
  • Need for renal replacement therapy has been reported up to 90 days after HES administration. Continue to monitor renal function for at least 90 days in all patients.
  • Avoid use in patients undergoing open heart surgery in association with cardiopulmonary bypass due to excess bleeding.
  • Discontinue use of HES at the first sign of coagulopathy.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
  • Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

[06/24/2013 - FDA Safety Communication - FDA]

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