Background: Hyperkalemia (serum potassium level, >5.0 mmol per liter) is associated with increased mortality among patients with heart failure, chronic kidney disease, or diabetes. We investigated whether sodium zirconium cyclosilicate (ZS-9), a novel selective cation exchanger, could lower serum potassium levels in patients with hyperkalemia.
Methods: In this multicenter, two-stage, double-blind, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 753 patients with hyperkalemia to receive either ZS-9 (at a dose of 1.25 g, 2.5 g, 5 g, or 10 g) or placebo three times daily for 48 hours. Patients with normokalemia (serum potassium level, 3.5 to 4.9 mmol per liter) at 48 hours were randomly assigned to receive either ZS-9 or placebo once daily on days 3 to 14 (maintenance phase). The primary end point was the exponential rate of change in the mean serum potassium level at 48 hours.
Results: At 48 hours, the mean serum potassium level had decreased from 5.3 mmol per liter at baseline to 4.9 mmol per liter in the group of patients who received 2.5 g of ZS-9, 4.8 mmol per liter in the 5-g group, and 4.6 mmol per liter in the 10-g group, for mean reductions of 0.5, 0.5, and 0.7 mmol per liter, respectively (P<0.001 for all comparisons) and to 5.1 mmol per liter in the 1.25-g group and the placebo group (mean reduction, 0.3 mmol per liter). In patients who received 5 g of ZS-9 and those who received 10 g of ZS-9, serum potassium levels were maintained at 4.7 mmol per liter and 4.5 mmol per liter, respectively, during the maintenance phase, as compared with a level of more than 5.0 mmol per liter in the placebo group (P<0.01 for all comparisons). Rates of adverse events were similar in the ZS-9 group and the placebo group (12.9% and 10.8%, respectively, in the initial phase; 25.1% and 24.5%, respectively, in the maintenance phase). Diarrhea was the most common complication in the two study groups.
Conclusions: Patients with hyperkalemia who received ZS-9, as compared with those who received placebo, had a significant reduction in potassium levels at 48 hours, with normokalemia maintained during 12 days of maintenance therapy. (Funded by ZS Pharma; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01737697.).