Iron deficiency remains a challenge of epidemic proportions to human health worldwide. Our aim is to improve treatment via education and in turn enhance the quality of life for patients with iron deficiency in many therapeutic areas
Maintaining normal iron levels in the blood and bone marrow is essential for optimal functioning of the human body. Iron is a core component of enzymes and proteins involved in key metabolic processes such as DNA synthesis, cell proliferation and differentiation, cellular respiration and immune protection against bacteria.
Most importantly, iron is an essential element in the production of haemoglobin, the blood protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. An estimated 70% of human iron is found in the red blood cells that contain hemoglobin or the myoglobin protein expressed in the body’s muscle cells.
In terms of mass, iron is the most abundant natural element on earth. Yet iron deficiency remains a significant challenge to human health worldwide, diminishing in a variety of ways the quality of life of the many people whose iron levels are too low.
A widespread need
Iron deficiency can occur as a result of malnutrition, malabsorption of iron, or diseases and conditions that deplete iron either directly or indirectly, such as peptic ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, major surgery or excessive menstrual bleeding. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder of all2,3. Some two billion people in total, or more than 30% of the global population, are anemic – many of them due to iron deficiency1.
1. Antony Lopex et al., The Lancet Seminar 2016| Volume 387, ISSUE 10021, P907-916, February 27 2016 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60865-0
Global prevalence of Anaemia
In developing countries, iron deficiency is often exacerbated by worm infections, malaria and other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS or schistosomiasis. The true scale of the problem is hidden behind health statistics such as death rates, incidents of maternal hemorrhage or poor performance in schools.
Conditions and diseases with increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia:
- Excessive menstrual bleeding/Pregnancy/Post-Partum Haemorrhage
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Congestive Heart Disease
- Old age and General Medicine
- Gastrointestinal disease (morbus crohns, ulcerative colitis)
- Major elective surgery
Lack of iron is the only nutrient deficiency with significant prevalence in industrialised countries5
5. Olivares M et al., British Medical Bulletin 1999; 55 (No. 3): 534-543
Anemia contributes to 20% of
all maternal deaths worldwide6
Health and economic impact
The health consequences of iron deficiency include poor outcomes in pregnancy, with anaemia contributing up to 20% of all maternal deaths worldwide6, as well as impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of child morbidity, and reduced productivity in adults.
By undermining the capacity of individuals or entire populations to work and prosper, lack of iron has grave implications for economic health and national development. Timely and effective treatment of iron deficiency can both restore personal health and raise national productivity levels by as much as 20%, the WHO notes6.
6. Turning the tide of malnutrition Responding to the challenge of the 21st century. WHO/NHD/00.7 https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/66505/WHO_NHD_00.7.pdf;jsessionid=674A855404C709A72A88E7D95DC82335?sequence=1
When reviewing the unmet needs in treatment and in spite of the general availability of fortified foods, iron supplements and, in severe cases, blood transfusions to treat iron deficiency: many problems and failings persist. In many countries, though, the options for convenient intravenous (IV) administration of high-dose iron are limited, in many cases due to the associated risk of free iron related adverse events.
Lower-dose IV iron products, on the other hand, raise questions of effectiveness, convenience and cost-efficiency. Patients often need to make multiple visits to a hospital before they can reach optimal levels of iron in the body.