Iron Dextran Complex
(EYE ern DEKS tran KOM pleks)
- High-Molecular-Weight Iron Dextran (DexFerrum)
- Iron Dextran
- Low-Molecular-Weight Iron Dextran (INFeD)
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product
Dexferrum: 50 mg/mL (1 mL [DSC], 2 mL [DSC])
Infed: 50 mg/mL (2 mL)
Brand Names: U.S.
- Dexferrum [DSC]
- Iron Salt
The released iron, from the plasma, eventually replenishes the depleted iron stores in the bone marrow where it is incorporated into hemoglobin
IM: 60% absorbed after 3 days; 90% after 1 to 3 weeks, the balance is slowly absorbed over months
IV: Uptake of iron by the reticuloendothelial system appears to be constant at about 10 to 20 mg/hour
Urine and feces via reticuloendothelial system
Onset of Action
Hematologic response to either oral or parenteral iron salts is essentially the same; red blood cell form and color changes within 3 to 10 days
Maximum effect: Peak reticulocytosis occurs in 5 to 10 days, and hemoglobin values increase within 2 to 4 weeks; serum ferritin peak: 7 to 9 days after IV dose
Use: Labeled Indications
Iron deficiency: Treatment of iron deficiency in patients in whom oral administration is unsatisfactory or infeasible
Hypersensitivity to iron dextran or any component of the formulation; any anemia not associated with iron deficiency
Note: Dexferrum has been discontinued in the US for more than 1 year.
Note: A 0.5 mL test dose should be given prior to starting iron dextran therapy.
Iron-deficiency anemia: IM (INFeD), IV (Dexferrum, INFeD):
Dose (mL) = 0.0442 (desired hemoglobin - observed hemoglobin) x LBW + (0.26 x LBW)
Desired hemoglobin: Usually 14.8 g/dL
LBW = Lean body weight in kg
Iron replacement therapy for blood loss: (INFeD), IV (Dexferrum, INFeD): Replacement iron (mg) = blood loss (mL) x Hct
Maximum daily dosage: Manufacturer's labeling: Note: Replacement of larger estimated iron deficits may be achieved by serial administration of smaller incremental dosages. Daily dosages should be limited to 100 mg iron (2 mL)
Cancer-/chemotherapy-associated anemia: IV: Note: Use the iron-deficiency anemia equation for determining a calculated dose, when applicable.
Weekly administration (off-label dosing; INFed):
Weeks 1-3: Test dose of 25 mg (over 1-2 minutes), followed by 75 mg (bolus) once weekly
Weeks 4 and after: 100 mg over 5 minutes once weekly until the calculated dose is reached (Auerbach, 2004)
Week 1: Test dose of 25 mg (slow IV push), followed 1 hour later by 75 mg over 5 minutes
Weeks 2-10: 100 mg over 5 minutes once weekly for a total cumulative dose of 1000 mg (NCCN anemia guidelines v.2.2014)
Total dose infusion (off-label dosing; INFeD):
Test dose of 25 mg (over 1-2 minutes), followed 1 hour later by the balance of the calculated total dose mixed in 500 mL NS and infused at 175 mL/hour (Auerbach, 2004)
Test dose of 25 mg (slow IV push) followed 1 hour later by the balance of the total dose as a single infusion over several hours; if calculated dose exceeds 1000 mg, administer remaining dose in excess of 1000 mg after 4 weeks if inadequate hemoglobin response (NCCN anemia guidelines v.2.2014)
Refer to adult dosing.
Note: Dexferrum has been discontinued in the US for more than 1 year.
Note: A 0.5 mL test dose (0.25 mL in infants) should be given prior to starting iron dextran therapy.
Iron-deficiency anemia: IM (INFeD), IV (Dexferrum, INFeD):
Children 5-15 kg: Should not normally be given in the first 4 months of life:
Dose (mL) = 0.0442 (desired hemoglobin - observed hemoglobin) x W + (0.26 x W)
Desired hemoglobin: Usually 12 g/dL
W = Total body weight in kg
Children >15 kg: Refer to adult dosing.
Iron replacement therapy for blood loss: Refer to adult dosing.
Maximum daily dose:
Children <5 kg: 25 mg iron (0.5 mL)
Children 5-10 kg: 50 mg iron (1 mL)
Children ≥10 kg: Refer to adult dosing.
Dosing: Renal Impairment
Hemodialysis: Nondialyzable. No dosage adjustment provided in manufacturer’s labeling.
Dosing: Hepatic Impairment
No dosage adjustment provided in manufacturer’s labeling.
Solutions for infusion should be diluted in 250-1000 mL NS.
Note: A test dose should be given on the first day of therapy; patient should be observed for 1 hour for hypersensitivity reaction, then the remainder of the day’s dose (dose minus test dose) should be given. Resuscitation equipment, medication, and trained personnel should be available. An uneventful test dose does not ensure an anaphylactic-type reaction will not occur during administration of the therapeutic dose.
IM (INFeD): Use Z-track technique (displacement of the skin laterally prior to injection); injection should be deep into the upper outer quadrant of buttock; alternate buttocks with subsequent injections. Administer test dose at same recommended site using the same technique.
IV: Test dose should be given gradually over at least 30 seconds (INFeD) or 5 minutes (Dexferrum), or over 1-2 minutes (INFeD) for cancer-/chemotherapy-associated anemia (Auerbach, 2004). Subsequent dose(s) may be administered by IV bolus undiluted at a rate not to exceed 50 mg/minute (maximum 100 mg). For total dose infusion in patients with cancer-/chemotherapy-associated anemia (off-label dose): 1 hour after the test dose, administer the balance of the dose diluted in 500 mL NS and infuse at 175 mL/hour (Auerbach, 2004) or administer over several hours (NCCN Anemia guidelines v.2.2104). Avoid dilutions with dextrose (increased incidence of local pain and phlebitis).
Store at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F); excursions permitted to 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F).
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Iron Dextran Complex. Specifically, patients receiving an ACE inhibitor may be at an increased risk for anaphylactic-type reactions. Management: Follow iron dextran recommendations closely regarding both having resuscitation equipment and trained personnel on-hand prior to iron dextran administration and the use of a test dose prior to the first therapeutic dose. Consider therapy modification
Dimercaprol: May enhance the nephrotoxic effect of Iron Salts. Avoid combination
May cause falsely elevated values of serum bilirubin and falsely decreased values of serum calcium. Residual iron dextran may remain in reticuloendothelial cells; may affect accuracy of examination of bone marrow iron stores. Bone scans with 99m Tc-labeled bone seeking agents may show reduced bony uptake, marked renal activity, and excess blood pooling and soft tissue accumulation following IV iron dextran infusion or with high serum ferritin levels. Following IM iron dextran, bone scans with 99m Tc-diphosphonate may show dense activity in the buttocks.
Frequency not defined. Adverse event risk is reported to be higher with the high-molecular-weight iron dextran formulation.
Cardiovascular: Bradycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, chest pain, chest tightness, flushing, hypertension, hypotension, shock, syncope, tachycardia
Central nervous system: Chills, disorientation, dizziness, headache, loss of consciousness, malaise, paresthesia, seizure, unresponsive to stimuli
Dermatologic: Diaphoresis, pruritus, skin rash, urticaria
Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, dysgeusia, nausea, vomiting
Genitourinary: Hematuria, urine discoloration
Hematologic & oncologic: Leukocytosis, lymphadenopathy, purpura
Hypersensitivity: Anaphylaxis (includes acute respiratory distress, circulatory shock)
Infection: Sterile abscess
Local: Injection site reaction (includes injection site cellulitis, inflammation at injection site, injection site phlebitis, local soreness/soreness at injection site, pain at injection site, swelling at injection site), local discoloration (at the site of intramuscular injection)
Neuromuscular & skeletal: Amyotrophy (with intramuscular injection), arthralgia, arthritis, back pain, exacerbation of arthritis, myalgia, weakness
Respiratory: Bronchospasm, cyanosis, dyspnea, wheezing
Miscellaneous: Fever, fibrosis (with intramuscular injection)
<1% (Limited to important or life-threatening): Angioedema, neoplasm (at former injection site)
Concerns related to adverse effects:
• Delayed reaction: Delayed (1-2 days) infusion reaction (including arthralgia, back pain, chills, dizziness, and fever) may occur with large doses (eg, total dose infusion) of IV iron dextran; usually subsides within 3-4 days. May also occur (less commonly) with IM administration; subsiding within 3-7 days.
• Hypersensitivity/anaphylactoid reactions: [U.S. Boxed Warning]: Deaths associated with parenteral administration following anaphylactic-type reactions have been reported (use only where resuscitation equipment and personnel are available). A test dose should be administered to all patients prior to the first therapeutic dose. Anaphylactic and other hypersensitivity reactions have occurred even in patients who tolerated the test dose; observe for anaphylactic reactions during any iron dextran administration; fatalities have occurred with the test dose. A history of drug allergy (including multiple drug allergies) and/or the concomitant use of an ACE inhibitor may increase the risk of anaphylactic-type reactions. Adverse events (including life-threatening) associated with iron dextran usually occur more with the high-molecular-weight formulation (Dexferrum), compared to low-molecular-weight (INFeD) (Chertow, 2006).
• Allergies/asthma: Use with caution in patients with a significant history of allergies or asthma.
• Cancer-associated anemia: In patients with cancer-related anemia (either due to cancer or chemotherapy-induced) requiring iron supplementation, the IV route is superior to oral therapy; IM administration is not recommended for parenteral iron supplementation.
• Cardiovascular disease: Use with caution in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease; iron dextran may exacerbate cardiovascular complications.
• Hepatic impairment: Use with extreme caution in patients with serious hepatic impairment.
• Renal disease/impairment: In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) requiring iron supplementation, the IV route is preferred for hemodialysis patients; either oral iron or IV iron may be used for nondialysis and peritoneal dialysis CKD patients. Avoid use during acute kidney infection.
• Rheumatoid arthritis: Use with caution in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; may exacerbate joint pain and swelling.
• Elderly: Anemia in the elderly is often caused by “anemia of chronic disease” or associated with inflammation rather than blood loss. Iron stores are usually normal or increased, with a serum ferritin >50 ng/mL and a decreased total iron binding capacity. IV administration of iron dextran is often preferred over IM in the elderly secondary to a decreased muscle mass and the need for daily injections.
• Pediatric: Intramuscular iron dextran use in neonates may be associated with an increased incidence of gram-negative sepsis.
Dosage form specific issues:
• Product interchangeability: Iron dextran products differ in chemical characteristics. The high-molecular-weight formulation (Dexferrum) and the low-molecular-weight formulation (INFeD) are not clinically interchangeable.
• Appropriate use: [U.S. Boxed Warning]: Use only in patients where the iron deficient state is not amenable to oral iron therapy. Discontinue oral iron prior to initiating parenteral iron therapy.
• Carcinogenicity: Intramuscular injections of iron-carbohydrate complexes may have a risk of delayed injection site tumor development.
• Iron overload: Exogenous hemosiderosis may result from excess iron stores; patients with refractory anemias and/or hemoglobinopathies may be prone to iron overload with unwarranted iron supplementation.
Hemoglobin, hematocrit, reticulocyte count, serum ferritin, serum iron, TIBC; monitor for anaphylaxis/hypersensitivity reaction (during test dose and therapeutic dose)
Pregnancy Risk Factor
Adverse events have been observed in animal reproduction studies. It is not known if iron dextran (as iron dextran) crosses the placenta. It is recommended that pregnant women meet the dietary requirements of iron with diet and/or supplements in order to prevent adverse events associated with iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy. Treatment of iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women is the same as in nonpregnant women and in most cases, oral iron preparations may be used. Except in severe cases of maternal anemia, the fetus achieves normal iron stores regardless of maternal concentrations.
• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
• Patient may experience injection site pain or irritation, diarrhea, headache, cramps, or change in taste. Have patient report immediately to prescriber angina, severe dizziness, passing out, severe nausea, severe vomiting, burning or numbness feeling, difficulty breathing, back pain, joint pain, chills, seizures, severe muscle pain, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, flushing, bradycardia, tachycardia, or arrhythmia (HCAHPS).
• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.
Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for healthcare professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience and judgment in diagnosing, treating and advising patients.
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- Drug class: iron products