Background: Oral iron supplements, which are usually in the form of ferrous (Fe2+) salts, are toxic to the gastrointestinal mucosa, and so intolerance is common, resulting in poor compliance and failure of treatment. The sugar derivative maltol strongly chelates iron, rendering it available for absorption and stabilized in the less toxic ferric (Fe3+) form.
Aim: To test whether ferric trimaltol could correct iron deficiency anaemia in patients intolerant of ferrous sulphate.
Methods: Twenty-three patients were recruited from gastroenterology clinics, of whom 1 5 had inflammatory bowel disease, a group often difficult to treat with oral iron. Patients with iron deficiency anaemia and documented intolerance to ferrous sulphate were given 3 months of treatment with ferric trimaltol.
Results: Nineteen of 23 patients completed the treatment and anaemia was fully corrected in 14 of these, mean haemoglobin increased from 106 +/- 15 to 126 +/- 16 g/L, and there was a particularly low incidence of side-effects. Of 11 patients with inflammatory bowel disease who completed the study, nine fully corrected their anaemia.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate that in patients intolerant of ferrous compounds, ferric trimaltol corrects iron deficiency and has a low incidence of side-effects.