If you’re one of millions of Americans who are prescribed Injectafer, you may need to heed the warnings of a potentially deadly side effect from taking it. The injectable iron supplement has been linked to causing hypophosphatemia (HPP), a condition that causes abnormally low blood levels of phosphate.
What is Injectafer?
Injectafer is used to treat iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in adults who are unable to take iron supplements, or those diagnosed with chronic kidney disease who are not on dialysis. It is an injectable iron complex manufactured by American Regent, Inc., a subsidiary of Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Injectafer has been around since 2013, when it was approved and released onto the US consumer market. Injectafer contains an injectable form of certain types of iron complexes. The injection slowly releases iron directly into the bloodstream to help reduce the side effects and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. Patients who have to take Injectafer are typically given two administrations within a matter of at least seven days.
Injectafer has quickly gained popularity on the market, but comes with an increased risk of HPP as opposed to other iron supplements.
What does iron do anyway?
Iron helps in the production of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen through the body to organs and cells. If there is not enough hemoglobin produced in the body, this means organs and cells are not getting enough oxygen. This can then cause the body to experience a plethora of potentially severe and ultimately deadly conditions if left untreated.
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms include pale skin, muscle weakness, cold hands and feet, chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, brittle nails, and excessive fatigue. Some side effects also include unusual cravings.
Many individuals experience IDA for a variety of reasons such as blood loss, a general lack of iron in the diet, pregnancy, or an inability to absorb iron. Those at risk of IDA include infants, children, women, those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, frequent blood donors, or those with digestive disorders such as celiac or Chrohn’s disease.
How is iron deficiency addressed?
Many doctors begin to address IDA by prescribing oral iron supplements, as blood-iron levels are expected to stabilize after a few months. However, some people are unable to tolerate iron supplements which is when an intravenous solution, such as Injectafer, is needed.
What is hypophosphatemia?
Let’s begin by addressing phosphate and why low levels are dangerous to our bodies.
We naturally absorb phosphate in foods such as milk, eggs, meat, or beans. When phosphorous combines with oxygen, the body produces phosphate. This is then used to help support important structures such as bones, teeth, muscles, and nerves.
When the phosphate levels start to drop from conditions such as hypophosphatemia, the body cannot function normally. This means the bones, teeth, muscles, and nerves phosphate was keeping healthy are no longer receiving support. The longer the body is deprived of normal levels of iron, the more severe HPP becomes.
Research concludes Injectafer increases risk of hypophosphatemia
In 2015, a study of 52 patients who received iron sucrose injections indicated only 22% of those with sucrose suffered HPP. However, 51% of 78 patients who were injected with FCM developed HPP, including 13% who reported severe HPP. The researchers concluded, “Hypophosphatemia is frequent after parenteral FCM injection and may have clinical consequences, including persistent fatigue.”
In 2016, researchers in Austria found patients injected with a particular type of iron used in Injectafer were more likely to experience hypophosphatemia.
Injectafer is equipped with ferric carboxymaltose (FCM). Studies found patients injected with FCM were 45.5% more likely to experience HPP, with a prevalence of 32% experiencing severe HPP. Compared to an alternative iron supplement, iron isomaltoside (IIM), only a significantly lower 4% of patients experienced HPP with no severe cases reported.
The average time in which it took for the body to achieve full-blown HPP from taking FCM was around 41 days. The researchers concludes that IIM has a significantly lower risk of HPP in comparison to the FCM in Injectafer.
In a letter to the editor of Ailmentary Phamacology and Therapeutics in 2017, four medical professionals wrote about the occurrence of HPP in patients being injected with FCM. In it, they cited many studies on the effects of FCM versus oral or alternative iron supplements.
They indicated, “..hypophosphatemia occurs more frequently as an adverse event than it is reported as adverse drug reaction and has indeed been described to occur in up to 70% of patients treated with ferric carboxymaltose.”
What are the symptoms of hypophosphatemia?
Severe HPP comes with a wide range of conditions if left untreated. As hypophosphatemia causes low blood levels of phosphate, many of the side effects include:
- Rhabdomyolysis (muscle wasting)
- Muscle pain
- Respiratory failure
- Heart failure
- Acute hemolytic anemia (a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed too quickly)
- Fatal arrhythmias (heart rhythm abnormalities)
- Bone pain and fractures
American Regent has failed to investigate, nor provide adequate warnings about the risk of hypophosphatemia from Injectafer. This puts many patients at risk of developing side effects that they were not expecting. Currently, the only side effects American Regent lists from taking Injectafer are considered mild such as nausea, headaches, and low levels of phosphorus in the blood.
Do I Have an Injectafter Lawsuit?
If you or somebody you know has suffered side effects from Injectafter, you may want to speak with the lawyers at Johnson // Becker. We are actively accepting new Injectafter lawsuits across the county and you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.
We offer a Free Case Evaluation. Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386. We would be honored to speak with you and respond promptly to every inquiry we receive.