Skip to Content

Iron Dextran

Class: Iron Preparations
CAS Number: 9004-66-4
Brands: Dexferrum, INFeD

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Oct 26, 2020. Written by ASHP.

Warning

  • Risk of developing potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. (See Anaphylaxis under Cautions.) Patients with a history of drug allergy or multiple drug allergies may be at increased risk of anaphylactic-type reactions to iron dextran.

    Use only in patients in whom a clearly established indication for parenteral iron therapy exists, confirmed by appropriate clinical and laboratory tests.

  • Should be administered by qualified individuals with ready access to resuscitation equipment and appropriate agents for the treatment of a severe allergic or anaphylactic reaction (e.g., epinephrine, or isoproterenol in patients receiving β-adrenergic blocking agents).

  • Administer test dose prior to first therapeutic dose.

  • During administration of any iron dextran dose, observe for manifestations of anaphylactic-type reactions. Fatal reactions have occurred following a test dose of iron dextran and also in patients in whom the test dose was tolerated.

  • If no manifestations of anaphylactic-type reactions occur after test dose, administer full therapeutic dose.

Introduction

Ferric hydroxide or ferric oxyhydroxide in a complex with partially hydrolyzed low molecular weight dextran.

Uses for Iron Dextran

Iron Deficiency Not Amenable to Oral Iron Therapy

Treatment of iron deficiency when oral iron preparations are ineffective or cannot be used.

In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) on hemodialysis, IV iron superior to orally administered iron for increasing hemoglobin concentrations and/or minimizing dosage of an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA); the National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (NKF-KDOQI) guidelines state that the IV route is preferred for iron administration in such patients.

Iron Dextran Dosage and Administration

General

  • Discontinue oral iron therapy prior to initiation of iron dextran therapy. (See Iron, oral under Interactions.)

  • Calculate recommended total iron dextran dosage for treatment of iron deficiency anemia or iron replacement for blood loss from appropriate dosage formulas; these formulas are specific for each indication and are not interchangeable. Recommended dosage for treatment of iron deficiency anemia also may be determined from a table; consult manufacturer’s labeling.

  • Possible increased incidence of adverse effects, especially delayed reactions, associated with large IV doses of iron dextran, such as those used in total-dose infusions.

  • Perform periodic determinations of hematologic response (e.g., serum ferritin, blood hemoglobin concentration, hematocrit, and reticulocyte count) during the course of therapy.

Sensitivity Testing

  • Administer test dose by intended route of administration for therapeutic doses prior to initial therapeutic dose.

  • After slow IV injection (given over ≥30 seconds for INFeD or ≥5 minutes for Dexferrum) or IM injection (INFeD) of 25 mg of iron (0.5 mL), observe for ≥1 hour for sensitivity reactions (see Anaphylaxis under Cautions) before administering the remaining portion of the initial dose.

  • Take precautions to be prepared to treat potential allergic reactions. (See Boxed Warning.)

Administration

Administer undiluted by slow (≤50 mg/minute) IV injection; some preparations (i.e., INFeD) also are FDA-labeled for IM injection. Iron dextran also has been administered after dilution by IV infusion (e.g., over 1–6 hours).

IV Administration

For solution and drug compatibility information, see Compatibility under Stability.

Do not mix with other drugs or add to parenteral nutrition solutions for IV infusion.

Dilution

Dilution not recommended by manufacturers, but there have been reports of the total calculated dose of iron dextran being diluted in 250–1000 mL of 0.9% sodium chloride injection for IV infusion.

Use of 5% dextrose injection instead of 0.9% sodium chloride injection may be associated with a higher incidence of local pain and phlebitis.

Rate of Administration

If undiluted, administer by slow IV injection at ≤50 mg/minute (1 mL/minute).

If diluted, administer by IV infusion over 1–6 hours.

IM Administration

INFeD preparation: Administer by deep IM injection using a 2- or 3-inch, 19- or 20-gauge needle into the upper outer quadrant of the buttock only.

If patient is standing, administer IM injection in buttock of the leg opposite the patient’s weight-bearing leg; if supine, place patient in a lateral position with the injection site uppermost.

To avoid injection or leakage into subcutaneous tissue, use Z-track injection technique (i.e., firmly push aside subcutaneous tissue over the site of injection before inserting the needle).

Dosage

Available as iron dextran; dosage expressed in terms of elemental iron. Each mL of iron dextran injection is equivalent of 50 mg of elemental iron.

Pediatric Patients

Iron Deficiency Anemia
IV or IM

Children weighing 5–15 kg (11–33 lbs): Use the following formula (where Wt = patient's weight in kg and Hbo = observed hemoglobin in g/dL):

[0.0442 × Wt × (12 g/dL − Hbo)]+ (0.26 × Wt) = total dosage of iron dextran injection (mL)

Children weighing >15 kg (33 lbs): Use the following formula (where Wt = patient's weight in kg and Hbo = observed hemoglobin in g/dL):

[0.0442 × Wt × (14.8 g/dL − Hbo)]+ (0.26 × Wt) = total dosage of iron dextran injection (mL)

Iron Replacement Secondary to Blood Loss
IV or IM

Use the following formula to calculate required total iron dextran dosage in mL:

0.02 × blood loss (in mL) × hematocrit (expressed as a decimal fraction) = total dosage of iron dextran injection (mL)

Adults

Iron Deficiency Anemia
IV or IM

Recommended formula (where Wt = patient's weight in kg and Hbo = observed hemoglobin in g/dL) for calculating total dosage of iron dextran injection (in mL):

[0.0442 × Wt × (14.8 g/dL − Hbo)]+ (0.26 × Wt) = total dosage of iron dextran injection (mL)

Iron Replacement Secondary to Blood Loss
IV or IM

Use the following formula to calculate required total dosage of iron dextran injection (in mL):

0.02 × blood loss (in mL) × hematocrit (expressed as a decimal fraction) = total dosage of iron dextran injection (mL)

Prescribing Limits

Pediatric Patients

Iron Deficiency Not Amenable to Oral Iron Therapy
IV or IM

Infants weighing <5 kg (11 lbs): Maximum daily dosage is 25 mg of iron.

Children weighing 5–9 kg (11–21 lbs): Maximum daily dosage is 50 mg of iron.

Children weighing ≥10 kg (22 lbs): Maximum daily dosage is 100 mg of iron.

Adults

Iron Deficiency Not Amenable to Oral Iron Therapy
IV or IM

Maximum daily dosage is 100 mg of iron.

Special Populations

Renal Impairment

Iron Deficiency Not Amenable to Oral Iron Therapy
Anemia of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
IV

In patients with CKD receiving an ESA, administer sufficient iron to maintain selected targets of iron therapy (i.e., transferrin saturation and serum ferritin concentrations); periodically monitor these iron indices and use results (in conjunction with hemoglobin concentrations and ESA dosage) to guide iron therapy.

Cautions for Iron Dextran

Contraindications

  • Anemias not associated with iron deficiency.

  • Known hypersensitivity to iron dextran or any ingredient in the formulation.

Warnings/Precautions

Warnings

Anaphylactic-type Reactions

Sensitivity (e.g., anaphylactoid or anaphylactic) reactions, including fatalities, have occurred following parenteral administration of iron dextran. (See Anaphylaxis under Cautions.) Such reactions may be immediate or delayed.

Infectious Complications

Possible increased pathogenicity of certain microorganisms; not recommended for use during the acute phase of infectious renal disease.

Concomitant Cardiac Disorders

Possible exacerbation of cardiovascular complications because of adverse effects of the drug in patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease.

Carcinogenicity

Possible risk of carcinogenesis associated with IM administration of iron-carbohydrate complexes.

Sensitivity Reactions

Anaphylaxis

Manifested as sudden onset of respiratory difficulty (e.g., wheezing, bronchospasm, rigor, dyspnea, cyanosis), tachycardia, hypotension, respiratory arrest, and/or cardiovascular collapse; have resuscitation equipment and personnel trained in detection and treatment of anaphylactic-type reactions readily available during iron dextran administration. (See Boxed Warning.) Administer test dose prior to administration of initial and subsequent therapeutic doses of the drug and observe patient closely. (See Sensitivity Testing under Dosage and Administration.) Fatal reactions have occurred following test dose and also in patients in whom test dose was tolerated.

Risk for anaphylaxis may be increased in patients with history of drug allergy or multiple drug allergies or with concomitant use of ACE inhibitors. Risk for anaphylactic-type reactions to specific iron dextran preparations is not known and may vary. Use with caution in patients with a history of clinically important allergies and/or asthma.

Iron dextran preparations differ in chemical characteristics and may differ in clinical effects; manufacturers state that such preparations are not clinically interchangeable.

General Precautions

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Possible fever and exacerbation or reactivation of joint pain and swelling with IV administration in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; use with extreme caution.

Misuse

Excess storage of iron and a syndrome similar to hemosiderosis possible when used for anemia not attributable to iron deficiency (e.g., those with hemoglobinopathies and other refractory anemias that might be erroneously diagnosed as iron deficiency anemias).

Specific Populations

Pregnancy

Category C.

Lactation

Distributed into milk (as traces of unmetabolized iron dextran); use with caution in nursing women.

Pediatric Use

Possible increased incidence of gram-negative sepsis; not recommended for use in infants <4 months of age.

Hepatic Impairment

Use with extreme caution in patients with serious impairment of hepatic function.

Renal Impairment

Systemic exposure to iron dextran may be increased. (See Special Populations under Pharmacokinetics.)

Common Adverse Effects

Sensitivity (e.g., anaphylactoid or anaphylactic) reactions; can be immediate or delayed and vary widely in severity.

Interactions for Iron Dextran

Specific Drugs and Laboratory Test Interactions

Drug or Test

Interaction

Comment

ACE inhibitors

May increase risk for anaphylaxis with concomitant use

Bone scans using imaging agents labeled with technetium Tc 99m (diphosphonate)

Dense, crescentic areas of activity along the contour of the iliac crest, visualized 1–6 days after IM administration of iron dextran

Possible reduced bone uptake, marked renal activity, and excessive blood pool and soft tissue accumulation

Iron, oral

Therapeutic duplication; increased risk for iron toxicity

Concomitant use not recommended

Test for anemia

Serum iron determinations (especially colorimetric assays) may not be meaningful for 3 weeks following the administration of iron dextran

Serum ferritin concentrations peak approximately 7–9 days following an IV iron dextran dose and slowly return to baseline over a period of about 3 weeks

Bone marrow examination for iron stores may not be meaningful for prolonged periods following iron dextran therapy because residual iron dextran may remain in the reticuloendothelial cells

Interpret test results with caution

Test for blood chemistry

May cause falsely elevated values of serum bilirubin and falsely decreased values of serum calcium

Test for coagulation

Prolonged partial thromboplastin time following IV administration of iron dextran when the blood sample for the test is mixed with anticoagulant citrate dextrose solution but not sodium citrate solution

Blood typing and cross-matching unaffected

Iron Dextran Pharmacokinetics

Absorption

Bioavailability

Absorbed slowly from the site of IM injection, principally through the lymphatic system; 60% of an IM dose after 3 days, up to 90% after 1–3 weeks; and the remainder gradually absorbed over a period of several months or longer.

Absorbed very slowly from subcutaneous tissue; stains skin for up to 2 years if the drug is deposited in this tissue.

Onset

In iron-deficient patients, reticulocytosis may begin by the 4th day following an IV infusion of the total calculated dose of iron dextran and reaches a maximum by about the 10th day.

Distribution

Extent

After reticuloendothelial cells separate iron from the iron dextran complex, iron becomes a part of the body’s total iron stores.

Crosses the placenta and small amounts of iron apparently reach the fetus.

Distributed into breast milk, but only as trace amounts of unmetabolized iron dextran.

Elimination

Elimination of iron from serum, including elimination half-life, does not correspond to clearance of the mineral from the body.

Elimination Route

Excreted in urine, bile, or feces, but only as trace amounts of unmetabolized iron dextran.

Half-life

In doses ≤500 mg, iron dextran plasma concentrations decrease exponentially with a half-life of about 6 hours.

Special Populations

In iron-deficient patients with coexistent end-stage renal disease and other clinical problems, the serum elimination half-life of iron averaged 58.9 hours (range: 9.4–87.4 hours) following IV administration of iron dextran.

Negligibly removed by hemodialysis.

Stability

Storage

Parenteral

Injection

20–25°C; excursions permitted to 15–30°C.

Compatibility

For information on systemic interactions resulting from concomitant use, see Interactions.

Parenteral

Solution CompatibilityHID

Compatible

Dextrose 5%

Sodium chloride 0.9%

Actions

  • Corrects the erythropoietic abnormalities that are due to a deficiency of iron.

  • Does not stimulate erythropoiesis nor does it correct hemoglobin disturbances not caused by iron deficiency.

Advice to Patients

  • Risk of anaphylactic reactions.

  • Importance of women informing their clinician if they are or plan to become pregnant or plan to breast-feed.

  • Importance of informing clinicians of existing or contemplated concomitant therapy, including prescription and OTC drugs, as well as concomitant illnesses.

  • Importance of informing patients of other important precautionary information. (See Cautions.)

Preparations

Excipients in commercially available drug preparations may have clinically important effects in some individuals; consult specific product labeling for details.

Please refer to the ASHP Drug Shortages Resource Center for information on shortages of one or more of these preparations.

Iron Dextran

Routes

Dosage Forms

Strengths

Brand Names

Manufacturer

Parenteral

Injection, for IV use

equivalent to 50 mg of elemental iron per mL

Dexferrum

American Regent

Injection, for IV or IM use

equivalent to 50 mg of elemental iron per mL

INFeD

Watson

AHFS DI Essentials™. © Copyright 2021, Selected Revisions November 4, 2013. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.

† Use is not currently included in the labeling approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Show article references