Anemia is a frequent complication in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The optimal route for iron supplementation to replenish iron stores has not been determined so far. We therefore evaluated the efficacy and safety of intravenous iron sucrose as compared with oral iron sulfate for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in patients with IBD.
A randomized, prospective, open-label, multicenter study was performed in 46 patients with anemia and transferrin saturation ≤20% and/or serum ferritin concentrations ≤20 μg/L. The intravenous group received a single dose of iron sucrose of 7 mg iron/kg body weight, followed by five 200 mg infusions for the following 5 wks. The oral group received iron sulfate 100–200 mg per day for 6 wks.
While a comparable increase in hemoglobin was observed for both administration routes (median increase 0.25 g/L in the intravenous group vs 0.21 g/L in the oral group), only iron sucrose led to a rise in serum ferritin concentrations. Intractable gastrointestinal adverse events caused permanent study drug discontinuation in five patients (20.8%) receiving iron sulfate, whereas only one patient (4.5%) had to be withdrawn because of side effects due to iron sucrose.
Although being equal in short-term efficacy and overall tolerability our results suggest a better gastrointestinal tolerability for iron sucrose. Larger trials are mandatory to prove a possible advantage of iron sucrose in short- and long-term efficacy as well as in tolerability over iron sulfate in the management of IDA in IBD.