Iron sucrose: the oldest iron therapy becomes new

Am J Kidney Dis. 2002 Dec;40(6):1111-21. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2002.36853.


Several parenteral iron preparations are now available. This article focuses on iron sucrose, a hematinic, used more widely than any other for more than five decades, chiefly in Europe and now available in North America. Iron sucrose has an average molecular weight of 34 to 60 kd, and after intravenous (IV) administration, it distributes into a volume equal to that of plasma, with a terminal half-life of 5 to 6 hours. Transferrin and ferritin levels can be measured reliably 48 hours after IV administration of this agent. Iron sucrose carries no "black-box" warning, and a test dose is not required before it is administered. Doses of 100 mg can be administered over several minutes, and larger doses up to 300 mg can be administered within 60 minutes. The efficacy of iron sucrose has been shown in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) both before and after the initiation of dialysis therapy. Iron sucrose, like iron gluconate, has been associated with a markedly lower incidence of life-threatening anaphylactoid reactions and may be administered safely to those with previously documented intolerance to iron dextran or iron gluconate. Nonanaphylactoid reactions, including non-life-threatening hypotension, nausea, and exanthema, also are extremely uncommon with iron sucrose. Management of patients with the anemia of CKD mandates that we carefully examine the effectiveness and safety of this oldest of iron preparations and the accumulating present-day data regarding it and contemporaneous agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry
  • Ferric Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Ferric Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Ferric Oxide, Saccharated
  • Glucaric Acid
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Kidney Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ferric Compounds
  • Ferric Oxide, Saccharated
  • Glucaric Acid