Oral phosphate binders

Kidney Int. 2009 May;75(9):906-14. doi: 10.1038/ki.2009.60. Epub 2009 Mar 11.


Hyperphosphatemia is an inevitable consequence of end-stage chronic kidney disease and is present in the majority of dialysis patients. Hyperphosphatemia is observationally and statistically associated with increased cardiovascular mortality among dialysis patients. Dietary restriction of phosphate and current dialysis modalities are not sufficiently effective to maintain serum phosphate levels within the recommended range, so the majority of dialysis patients require oral phosphate binders. However, the benefits of achieving the recommended range have yet to be shown prospectively. Unfortunately, conventional phosphate binders are not reliably effective and are associated with a range of limitations and side effects. Aluminum-containing agents are highly efficient but no longer widely used because of proven toxicity. Calcium-based salts are inexpensive, effective, and most widely used, but there is now concern about their association with hypercalcemia and vascular calcification. Sevelamer hydrochloride is associated with fewer adverse effects, but a large pill burden and high cost are limiting factors to its wider use. Lanthanum carbonate is another non-aluminum, calcium-free phosphate binder. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown a good safety profile, and it appears to be well tolerated and effective in reducing phosphate levels in dialysis patients; however, it is similarly expensive. Data on its safety profile over 6 years of treatment are now published. Achievement of opinion-based guidelines appears to have become an end in itself. Dialysis patient outcomes are worse than outcomes for many types of cancer, yet prospective, outcome-based randomized controlled trials are not being undertaken for reasons that are difficult to explain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hyperphosphatemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperphosphatemia / therapy
  • Lanthanum / therapeutic use
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Polyamines / therapeutic use
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Sevelamer


  • Chelating Agents
  • Phosphates
  • Polyamines
  • lanthanum carbonate
  • Lanthanum
  • Sevelamer