May 27, 2017
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Mechanism Of Action

Ferrlecit is used to replete the body content of iron. Iron is critical for normal hemoglobin synthesis to maintain oxygen transport. Additionally, iron is necessary for metabolism and various enzymatic processes.


Multiple sequential single dose intravenous pharmacokinetic studies were performed on 14 healthy iron-deficient volunteers. Entry criteria included hemoglobin ≥ 10.5 gm/dL and transferrin saturation ≤ 15% (TSAT) or serum ferritin value ≤ 20 ng/mL. In the first stage, each subject was randomized 1:1 to undiluted Ferrlecit injection of either 125 mg/hr or 62.5 mg/0.5 hr (2.1 mg/min). Five days after the first stage, each subject was rerandomized 1:1 to undiluted Ferrlecit injection of either 125 mg/7 min or 62.5 mg/4 min ( > 15.5 mg/min).

Peak drug levels (Cmax ) varied significantly by dosage and by rate of administration with the highest Cmax observed in the regimen in which 125 mg was administered in 7 minutes (19.0 mg/L). The terminal elimination half-life for drug bound iron was approximately 1 hour. Half-life varied by dose but not by rate of administration. Half-life values were 0.85 and 1.45 hours for the 62.5 mg/4 min and 125 mg/7 min regimens, respectively. Total clearance of Ferrlecit was 3.02 to 5.35 L/h. The AUC for Ferrlecit bound iron varied by dose from 17.5 mg-h/L (62.5 mg) to 35.6 mg-h/L (125 mg). Approximately 80% of drug bound iron was delivered to transferrin as a mononuclear ionic iron species within 24 hours of administration in each dosage regimen. Direct movement of iron from Ferrlecit to transferrin was not observed. Mean peak transferrin saturation returned to near baseline by 40 hours after administration of each dosage regimen.


Single dose intravenous pharmacokinetic analyses were performed on 48 iron-deficient pediatric hemodialysis patients. Twenty-two patients received 1.5 mg/kg Ferrlecit and 26 patients received 3.0 mg/kg Ferrlecit (maximum dose 125 mg). The mean Cmax, AUC0-∞ , and terminal elimination half-life values following a 1.5 mg/kg dose were 12.9 mg/L, 95.0 mg·hr/L, and 2.0 hours, respectively. The mean Cmax, AUC0-∞, and terminal elimination half-life values following a 3.0 mg/kg dose were 22.8 mg/L, 170.9 mg·hr/L, and 2.5 hours, respectively.

In vitro experiments have shown that less than 1% of the iron species within Ferrlecit can be dialyzed through membranes with pore sizes corresponding to 12,000 to 14,000 daltons over a period of up to 270 minutes. Human studies in renally competent patients suggest the clinical insignificance of urinary excretion.

Clinical Studies

Two clinical studies (Studies A and B) were conducted in adults and one clinical study was conducted in pediatric patients (Study C) to assess the efficacy and safety of Ferrlecit.

Study A

Study A was a three-center, randomized, open-label study of the safety and efficacy of two doses of Ferrlecit administered intravenously to irondeficient hemodialysis patients. The study included both a dose-response concurrent control and an historical control. Enrolled patients received a test dose of Ferrlecit (25 mg of elemental iron) and were then randomly assigned to receive Ferrlecit at cumulative doses of either 500 mg (low dose) or 1000 mg (high dose) of elemental iron. Ferrlecit was given to both dose groups in eight divided doses during sequential dialysis sessions (a period of 16 to 17 days). At each dialysis session, patients in the low-dose group received Ferrlecit 62.5 mg of elemental iron over 30 minutes, and those in the high-dose group received Ferrlecit 125 mg of elemental iron over 60 minutes. The primary endpoint was the change in hemoglobin from baseline to the last available observation through Day 40.

Eligibility for this study included chronic hemodialysis patients with a hemoglobin below 10 g/dL (or hematocrit at or below 32%) and either serum ferritin below 100 ng/mL or transferrin saturation below 18%. Exclusion criteria included significant underlying disease or inflammatory conditions or an epoetin requirement of greater than 10,000 units three times per week. Parenteral iron and red cell transfusion were not allowed for two months before the study. Oral iron and red cell transfusion were not allowed during the study for Ferrlecit-treated patients.

The historical control population consisted of 25 chronic hemodialysis patients who received only oral iron supplementation for 14 months and did not receive red cell transfusion. All patients had stable epoetin doses and hematocrit values for at least two months before initiation of oral iron therapy.

The evaluated population consisted of 39 patients in the low-dose Ferrlecit (sodium ferric gluconate complex in sucrose injection) group (50% female, 50% male; 74% white, 18% black, 5% Hispanic, 3% Asian; mean age 54 years, range 22–83 years), 44 patients in the high-dose Ferrlecit group (50% female, 48% male, 2% unknown; 75% white, 11% black, 5% Hispanic, 7% other, 2% unknown; mean age 56 years, range 20–87 years), and 25 historical control patients (68% female, 32% male; 40% white, 32% black, 20% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 4% unknown; mean age 52 years, range 25–84 years).

The mean baseline hemoglobin and hematocrit were similar between treatment and historical control patients: 9.8 g/dL and 29% and 9.6 g/dL and 29% in low- and high-dose Ferrlecit-treated patients, respectively, and 9.4 g/dL and 29% in historical control patients. Baseline serum transferring saturation was 20% in the low-dose group, 16% in the high-dose group, and 14% in the historical control. Baseline serum ferritin was 106 ng/mL in the low-dose group, 88 ng/mL in the high-dose group, and 606 ng/mL in the historical control.

Patients in the high-dose Ferrlecit group achieved significantly higher increases in hemoglobin and hematocrit than patients in the low-dose Ferrlecit group. See Table 1.

TABLE 1 : Study A: Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Iron Studies

  Mean Change from Baseline to Two Weeks After Cessation of Therapy
Ferrlecit 1000 mg IV
Ferrlecit 500 mg IV
Historical Control Oral Iron
Hemoglobin (g/dL) 1.1* 0.3 0.4
Hematocrit (%) 3.6* 1.4 0.8
Transferrin Saturation (%) 8.5 2.8 6.1
Serum Ferritin (ng/mL) 199 132 NA
* p < 0.01 versus the 500 mg grou 1000 mg IV
500 mg IV
Oral Iron

Study B

Study B was a single-center, non-randomized, open-label, historicallycontrolled, study of the safety and efficacy of variable, cumulative doses of intravenous Ferrlecit in iron-deficient hemodialysis patients. Ferrlecit administration was identical to Study A. The primary efficacy variable was the change in hemoglobin from baseline to the last available observation through Day 50.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria were identical to those of Study A as was the historical control population. Sixty-three patients were evaluated in this study: 38 in the Ferrlecit-treated group (37% female, 63% male; 95% white, 5% Asian; mean age 56 years, range 22– 84 years) and 25 in the historical control group (68% female, 32% male; 40% white, 32% black, 20% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 4% unknown; mean age 52 years, range 25–84 years).

Ferrlecit-treated patients were considered to have completed the study per protocol if they received at least eight Ferrlecit doses of either 62.5 mg or 125 mg of elemental iron. A total of 14 patients (37%) completed the study per protocol. Twelve (32%) Ferrlecit-treated patients received less than eight doses, and 12 (32%) patients had incomplete information on the sequence of dosing. Not all patients received Ferrlecit at consecutive dialysis sessions and many received oral iron during the study.

Cumulative Ferrlecit Dose (mg of elemental iron) 62.5 250 375 562.5 625 750 1000 1125 1187.5
Patients (#) 1 1 2 1 10 4 12 6 1

Baseline hemoglobin and hematocrit values were similar between the treatment and control groups, and were 9.1 g/dL and 27.3%, respectively, for Ferrlecit-treated patients. Serum iron studies were also similar between treatment and control groups, with the exception of serum ferritin, which was 606 ng/mL for historical control patients, compared to 77 ng/mL for Ferrlecit-treated patients.

In this patient population, only the Ferrlecit-treated group achieved increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit from baseline. See Table 2.

TABLE 2 : Study B: Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Iron Studies

(N=38) change
Ural Iron
(N=25) change
Hemoglobin (g/dL) 1.3 0.4
Hematocrit (%) 3.8 0.2
Transferrin Saturation (%) 6.7 1.7
Serum Ferritin (ng/dL) 73 -145

Study C

Study C was a multicenter, randomized, open-label study of the safety and efficacy of two Ferrlecit dose regimens (1.5 mg/kg or 3.0 mg/kg of elemental iron) administered intravenously to 66 iron-deficient (transferring saturation < 20% and/or serum ferritin < 100 ng/mL) pediatric hemodialysis patients, 6 to 15 years of age, inclusive who were receiving a stable erythropoietin dosing regimen.

Ferrlecit at a dose of 1.5 mg/kg or 3.0 mg/kg (up to a maximum dose of 125 mg of elemental iron) in 25 mL 0.9% sodium chloride was infused intravenously over 1 hour during each hemodialysis session for eight sequential dialysis sessions. Thirty-two patients received the 1.5 mg/kg dosing regimen (47% male, 53% female; 66% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic, and 3% Black, Asian, or Other; mean age 12.3 years). Thirty-four patients received the 3.0 mg/kg dosing regimen (56% male, 44% female; 77% Caucasian, 12% Hispanic, 9% Black, and 3% Other; mean age 12.0 years).

The primary endpoint was the change in hemoglobin concentration from baseline to 2 weeks after last Ferrlecit administration. There was no significant difference between the treatment groups. Improvements in hematocrit, transferrin saturation, serum ferritin, and reticulocyte hemoglobin concentrations compared to baseline values were observed 2 weeks after the last Ferrlecit infusion in both the 1.5 mg/kg and 3.0 mg/kg treatment groups (Table 3).

TABLE 3 : Study C: Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Iron Status

  Mean Change From Baseline to Two Weeks After Cessation of Therapy in Patients Completing Treatment
1.5 mg/kg Ferrlecit
3.0 mg/kg Ferrlecit
Hemoglobin (g/dL) 0.8 0.9
Hematocrit (%) 2.6 3.0
Transferrin Saturation (%) 5.5 10.5
Serum Ferritin (ng/mL) 192 314
Reticulocyte Hemoglobin Content (pg) 1.3 1.2

The increased hemoglobin concentrations were maintained at 4 weeks after the last Ferrlecit infusion in both the 1.5 mg/kg and the 3.0 mg/kg Ferrlecit dose treatment groups.

Last reviewed on RxList: 4/15/2016
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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