Background: Two new intravenous (IV) iron products, ferric gluconate and iron sucrose, recently were approved for use in the United States. We report trends in IV iron use in both incident (1994 to 2001) and prevalent (1994 to 2002) Medicare US dialysis patients.
Methods: Included patients had Medicare as a primary payer. Recombinant human erythropoietin doses, IV iron use, and hemoglobin data were obtained from Medicare outpatient files. The most recent cohorts included 241,770 prevalent hemodialysis (HD) patients in 2002 and 11,744 incident HD patients in 2001.
Results: For incident HD patients in the first 9 months of dialysis therapy, the percentage of patients administered IV iron increased sharply between 1994 and 1997 and then increased gradually between 1997 and 2001. In 2002, a total of 84.4% of HD and 19.3% of peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients were administered IV iron. Ferric gluconate use increased slowly in 2000, increased from 5.7% to 18.6% from December 2000 to January 2001, increased to 29.8% in April 2002, and was 23.3% in December 2002. Iron sucrose use increased to 26% by December 2002. The absolute monthly percentage of HD patients administered IV iron dextran decreased from 49.6% in January 2000 to 3.6% in December 2002.
Conclusion: In US patients with end-stage renal disease, IV iron use has increased, although slowly, from 1997 to 2002. Ferric gluconate and iron sucrose have become the predominant form of therapy. IV iron therapy was used in a much smaller percentage of PD compared with HD patients, and racial and geographic variability was observed.