Current usage of intravenous immune globulin and the rationale behind it: the Massachusetts General Hospital data and a review of the literature

Transfusion. 2006 May;46(5):741-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2006.00792.x.


Background: Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in 6 conditions: immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), primary immunodeficiency, secondary immunodeficiency, pediatric HIV infection, Kawasaki disease, prevention of graft versus host disease (GVHD) and infection in bone marrow transplant recipients. However, most usage is for off-label indications, and for some of these comprehensive guidelines have been published.

Study design and methods: We retrospectively reviewed all approved IVIG transfusions at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2004 to identify the current usage pattern and completed a literature review.

Results: IVIG was most commonly used in the treatment of chronic neuropathy, which included chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) and multifocal motor neuropathy. For such patients, the annual cost of IVIG can exceed 50,000 dollars per patient. Other common indications were the treatment of hypogammaglobulinemia, ITP, renal transplant rejection, myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, necrotizing fasciitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and Kawasaki disease. IVIG was administered in a variety of other indications each representing <3% of the total treated patients.

Conclusion: Only a few indications account for most of the usage for IVIG. Reports concerning IVIG continue to grow at a tremendous pace but few high-quality randomized controlled trials have been reported. Randomized trials are especially needed for conditions such as CIDP, which consume large quantities of product.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Boston
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Hospitals, General*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / economics
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous