Iron Injectables

At bottom of post, more information on COVID-19.


At a recent Pharmacy, Nutrition, and Therapeutics (PNT) meeting, one of the topics that we reviewed was injectable iron agents, primarily iron sucrose (Venofer ®) and ferric carboxymaltose (Injectafer®).  Iron dextran is mainly used as a supplement in parenteral nutrition in our patient population.

Also, this topic is reviewed in Practical Gastroenterology Jan 2020 (M Auerbach et al. January 2020 • Volume XLIV, Issue 1: Treatment of Iron Deficiency in Gastroenterology: A New Paradigm

Key points:

  • Venofer® is much less expensive and currently has an FDA indication for children. To provide 1500 mg, Venofer®, 5 doses of 300 mg (~$75/dose)~$375. Injectafer®, 2 doses of 750 mg (~$600/dose) ~1200.  This does not include potential travel and other ancillary costs.
  • Dosing: Injectafer® can give large amounts of iron; in adults, typical dose is 750 mg given 7 days apart (in children 15 mg/kg/dose with 750 mg max).  FDA approved method is to administer over 15 minutes. Venofer® in children is 5-7 mg/kg/dose with 300 mg max per dose.
  • Injectafer® has been associated with hypophosphatemia (in 27%, <2 mg/dL); Hypophosphatemia has also been reported with iron sucrose.  The reported incidence of hypophosphatemia is higher with ferric carboxymaltose vs iron sucrose.
  • Other Adverse Effects
Iron Sucrose (Venofer®) Ferric Carboxy (Injectafer®)
Nausea 8.6% 7.2%
Vomiting 5% 1.7%
Diarrhea 7.2% <1%
Dizziness 6.5% 2%
Hypertension 6.5% 3.8%

Oral vs IV Iron for IBD: Auerbach et al recommends that “iron should only be given orally to IBD patients with inactive disease, mild anemia, and good tolerance of oral iron; in patients with active IBD oral iron should be avoided.”  They state that “oral iron has been shown to exacerbate intestinal inflammation of IBD independent of anemia, and cause luminal changes in microbiota and bacterial metabolism, which may negatively alter the microbiome.” (Has IV iron’s effect on the microbiome been studied/compared to oral iron?)

Safety of intravenous iron: “In a recent meta-analysis, the results of more than 10,000 patients who were treated with intravenous iron were reported. Compared to oral iron, placebo, and even intramuscular iron (which should never be given), while minor infusion reactions were observed with IV iron, there was no increase in serious adverse events compared to any comparator including placebo.”

My take: Injectafer® is likely preferable to Venofer® in the outpatient setting as adequate dosing can be given in 1 or 2 infusions.

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Here’s a link to Financial Times COVID-19 Tracker –includes logrithmic charts plotting the rates of reported infection and deaths and allows quick comparison between countries and high-volume locations (eg. Madrid, Lombardia, NY City).  Some figures from March 23, 2100 GMT noted below; unfortunately, the U.S is likely to the world leader in number of reported cases quite soon.

Other relevant tweets:


Allocating Scarce Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic

Here’s a link to CDC website and COVID-19 symptom self-checker (advice for families):

CDC Link: Testing for COVID-19


Full Link NEJM 2020 (Ezekial J Emmanuel et al): Fair Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of Covid-19

This article spells out an ethical approach to the likely need to ration care in the midst of this pandemic.

Here’s an excerpt:

Recommendation 1: In the context of a pandemic, the value of maximizing benefits is most important…Saving more lives and more years of life is a consensus value across expert reports… Because young, severely ill patients will often comprise many of those who are sick but could recover with treatment, this operationalization also has the effect of giving priority to those who are worst off in the sense of being at risk of dying young and not having a full life….Because maximizing benefits is paramount in a pandemic, we believe that removing a patient from a ventilator or an ICU bed to provide it to others in need is also justifiable and that patients should be made aware of this possibility at admission..Undoubtedly, withdrawing ventilators or ICU support from patients who arrived earlier to save those with better prognosis will be extremely psychologically traumatic for clinicians — and some clinicians might refuse to do so. However, many guidelines agree that the decision to withdraw a scarce resource to save others is not an act of killing and does not require the patient’s consent

Recommendation 2: Critical Covid-19 interventions — testing, PPE, ICU beds, ventilators, therapeutics, and vaccines — should go first to front-line health care workers and others who care for ill patients and who keep critical infrastructure operating, particularly workers who face a high risk of infection and whose training makes them difficult to replace…Priority for critical workers must not be abused by prioritizing wealthy or famous persons or the politically powerful above first responders and medical staff — as has already happened for testing. Such abuses will undermine trust in the allocation framework.

Recommendation 3: For patients with similar prognoses, equality should be invoked and operationalized through random allocation, such as a lottery, rather than a first-come, first-served allocation process

Recommendation 4: Prioritization guidelines should differ by intervention and should respond to changing scientific evidence. For instance, younger patients should not be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccines

Recommendation 5: People who participate in research to prove the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics should receive some priority for Covid-19 interventions

Recommendation 6: There should be no difference in allocating scarce resources between patients with Covid-19 and those with other medical conditions.

Placing such burdens on individual physicians could exact an acute and life-long emotional toll… To help clinicians navigate these challenges, institutions may employ triage officers, physicians in roles outside direct patient care, or committees of experienced physicians and ethicists,

My take: Reading this article is so sad.  It is heart-breaking just contemplating the need for these well-considered recommendations.  Also, see below -ACG shared data indicating significant fallibility with testing for Sars-Cov2/COVID-19.

How to Protect Healthcare Workers from COVID-19: Lessons from Hong Kong and Singapore

Atul Gawande has a very pertinent article in the New Yorker:  Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers

An excerpt:

There are lessons to be learned from two places that saw the new coronavirus before we did and that have had success in controlling its spread. Hong Kong and Singapore…

 All health-care workers are expected to wear regular surgical masks for all patient interactions, to use gloves and proper hand hygiene, and to disinfect all surfaces in between patient consults. Patients with suspicious symptoms (a low-grade fever coupled with a cough, respiratory complaints, fatigue, or muscle aches) or exposures (travel to places with viral spread or contact with someone who tested positive) are separated from the rest of the patient population, and treated—wherever possible—in separate respiratory wards and clinics, in separate locations, with separate teams. Social distancing is practiced within clinics and hospitals: waiting-room chairs are placed six feet apart; direct interactions among staff members are conducted at a distance; doctors and patients stay six feet apart except during examinations.

What’s equally interesting is what they don’t do. The use of N95 masks, face-protectors, goggles, and gowns are reserved for procedures where respiratory secretions can be aerosolized. Their quarantine policies are more nuanced, too. What happens when someone unexpectedly tests positive—say, a hospital co-worker or a patient in a primary-care office or an emergency room? In Hong Kong and Singapore, they don’t shut the place down or put everyone under home quarantine. They do their best to trace every contact and then quarantine only those who had close contact with the infected person. In Hong Kong, “close contact” means fifteen minutes at a distance of less than six feet and without the use of a surgical mask; in Singapore, thirty minutes. If the exposure is shorter than the prescribed limit but within six feet for more than two minutes, workers can stay on the job if they wear a surgical mask and have twice-daily temperature checks. People who have had brief, incidental contact are just asked to monitor themselves for symptoms…

Transmission seems to occur primarily through sustained exposure in the absence of basic protection or through the lack of hand hygiene after contact with secretions…

Singapore so far appears not to have had a single recorded health-care-related transmission of the coronavirus, despite the hundreds of cases that its medical system has had to deal with…

For those who cannot stay home, the lesson is that it is feasible to work and stay coronavirus-free, despite the risks….a greater likelihood of staff picking up infections at home than at work. 

“Crushing it:” Practice Guidance for Hepatitis C

Today’s post on Hepatitis C follows a few screenshots from twitter regarding the coronavirus epidemic.

Pediatric report of coronavirus in children: NEJM Full link: SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Children A recent review of 72,314 cases by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that less than 1% of the cases were in children younger than 10 years of age (n=171)…3 patients required intensive care support and invasive mechanical ventilation; all had coexisting conditions. There was one death in a 10-month-old child with intussusception had multiorgan failure and died 4 weeks after admission.


As noted yesterday, this post will review a recent practice guidance for hepatitis C

Some specific recommendations for children:


  • “All children born to HCV-infected women should be tested for HCV infection. Testing is recommended using an antibody-based test at or after 18 months of age.”
  • “Testing with an HCV-RNA assay can be considered in the first year of life, but the optimal timing of such testing is unknown” (but can be done as early as 2 months of life).
  • “The siblings of children with vertically-acquired chronic HCV should be tested for HCV infection, if born from the same mother.”

Counseling for parents:

  • “Parents should be informed that hepatitis C is not transmitted by casual contact and, as such, children with HCV infection do not pose a risk to other children and can participate in school, sports, and athletic activities, and engage in all other regular childhood activities without restrictions.”
  • “Parents should be informed that universal precautions should be followed at school and in the home of children with HCV infection. Educate families and children about the risk and routes of HCV transmission, and the techniques for avoiding blood exposure, such as avoiding the sharing of toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers, and the use of gloves and dilute bleach to clean up blood.”


  • “Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment with an approved regimen is recommended for all children and adolescents with HCV infection aged ≥3 years as they will benefit from antiviral therapy, regardless of disease severity.”
  • Early treatment in childhood is expected to be cost-effective compared to treatment at later ages based on previous studies

This chart provides recommendations for pediatric patients who have not received prior direct-acting antivirals. More information at

“Crushing it:” Two More Pediatric Hepatitis C Trials

Before today’s planned blog post, I wanted to mention a good NY Times article which highlights how long the virus which causes COVID-19 can be present on surfaces:

Full link from NY Times: How Long Will Coronavirus Live on Surfaces or in the Air Around You?

An excerpt:

The virus lives longest on plastic and steel, surviving for up to 72 hours. But the amount of viable virus decreases sharply over this time. It also does poorly on copper and cardboard, surviving four to eight hours; the latter finding suggests packages that arrive in the mail should be safe — unless the delivery person has coughed or sneezed on it or has handled it with contaminated hands.

That the virus can survive and stay infectious in aerosols is also important for health care workers.

For weeks experts have maintained that the virus is not airborne. But in fact, it can travel through the air and stay suspended for that period of about a half-hour.

The virus does not linger in the air at high enough levels to be a risk to most people who are not physically near an infected person. But the procedures health care workers use to care for infected patients are likely to generate aerosols.

The original article from NEJM:  Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1


This “C” virus was hard to cure until recently.  More good news from recently published studies for pediatric hepatitis c virus (HCV) treatment:

  • KB Schwarz et al. Hepatology 2020; 71: 422-30. 
  • MM Jonas et al. Hepatology 2020; 71: 456-62.
  • AASLD-IDSA Practice Guidance Panel. Hepatology 2020; 71: 686-721

In the first study of an all oral regimen of ledipasvir-sofosbuvir, sustained virological response at 12 weeks after dosing (SVR12) was achieved in 33 of 34 (97%) of children 3-<6 yrs of age with genotypes 1 or 4 (only 1 with type 4). No serious adverse effects were reported. Dosing: 33.75 mg/150 mg if <17 kg or 45 mg/200 mg if ≥17 kg. The one non-responder discontinued treatment due to drug taste.  Pharmokinetic studies in 13 patients confirmed appropriate medication dosing.

In the second study of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (G/P), as part of the DORA phase 2/3 nonrandomized, open-label trial, adolescents 12-17 received the ‘adult’ regimen of 300 mg/120 mg daily for 8-12 weeks in accordance with indication duration based on adult data.  Among the 47 patients (genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4), 100% achieved SVR12. Safety profile was consistent with prior studies in adults.

The third publication, which is quite lengthy, highlights updated recommendations for HCV in adults and children (this will be reviewed in tomorrow’s post).

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More Advice on Coronavirus for Pediatric GIs: NASPGHAN and CCFA

For Georgia:

NASPGHAN statement regarding Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Associated Infectious Disease (COVID -19) and Pediatric GI Patient Care and Providers.

Dear Members,

In view of the COVID -19 pandemic, care of our pediatric GI patients and at the same time our pediatric GI providers (i.e. physicians and other members of the healthcare team) is an utmost priority at NASPGHAN. NASPGHAN is working on several initiatives concurrently, and we are writing at this time to make you aware.

1. The Endoscopy Committee and the Clinical Practice Committee are working on a statement regarding elective procedures for pediatric GI patients with respect to this highly contagious pathogen, COVID to both preserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as limit potential exposure.

2. A task force of leaders from NASPGHAN, ESPGHAN, LASPGHAN, and Asia (Hangzhou, China) will be writing a commentary to be published in the JPGN, our journal, with what COVID-19 means to the pediatric gastroenterologist.

3. Mike Kappleman of UNC, ICN, NASPGHAN and in particular the IBD Committee, are launching a prospective, real-time monitoring study of COVID-19 in IBD patients. The study is IRB and HIPAA approved and will link its data with that collected by the European Porto group’s study of coronavirus in IBD patients in Europe and Asia, thereby allowing an operational real-time active surveillance network for children and adolescents with IBD (our patients).

4. Jason Silverman, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Lu are putting together a special episode of the Bowel Sounds Podcast™ including relevant up-to-date guidelines and information about COVID-19 as it relates to our members and our patients.

5. The Endoscopy Committee and Clinical Practice Committee are working on information and options for telemedicine and virtual health, given the more recent announcement by CMS and the White House/President Trump in terms of changes in reimbursement given the coronavirus pandemic.

6. Within the next 24 hours, the NASPGHAN Website, as well as will house resources and links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF), the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) and the Joint GI Societies Statement (adult-based), including ASGE, ACG, AGA on Endoscopic procedures in the face of COVID-19.

7. Finally, please feel free to send us suggestions that would help our pediatric GI community work towards creative solutions during this time.


Karen F. Murray MD
President, NASPGHAN

James Heubi MD
Past President, NASPGHAN

Benjamin Gold MD
President Elect, NASPGHAN

Jeannie S. Huang MD
Secretary Treasurer, NASPGHAN

Rina Sanghavi MD

Today’s Children in Crisis: YOYO

Predictive Modeling on COVID19 in U.S. from NYTimes: How Much Worse the Coronavirus Could Get, in Charts

Modeling comments from Nate Silver: It’s important to keep in mind that many of these models describe projections *without* changes in behavior. This is mentioned in the article (good for NYT, a lot of articles omit this context). So behavioral changes and testing are key. I slightly worry that some of the headlines contribute to a sense of fatalism, when the real message is more like “this is probably gonna be bad, but it could be considerably less bad if we get our act together and much worse if we don’t.”


Besides the current outbreak, what else has been happening to children:

So, is it surprising at all that there is no interest in limiting products shown to be dangerous for children?  Today’s children are being told: ‘you’re on your own’ (YOYO)

An ongoing concern for pediatric gastroenterologists, magnet ingestions, was highlighted in a Politco report -thanks to Ben Gold for sharing this report: Toddlers eat shiny objects….

Here are a few excerpts:

Once ingested, high-powered magnets find each other inside the body and shred any tissue, such as bowel, trapped in between….

In early 2012, this coalition [led by NASPGHAN] approached the Consumer Product Safety Commission with one simple ask: eliminate these high-powered magnet sets from the market…the agency ultimately recalled high-powered magnet sets …

One company, Zen Magnets, remained unconvinced, and sued the CPSC, fighting… the recall on existing magnets…

The rule [ban] set was struck down by two judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals with the deciding vote cast by now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. These judges ignored the expertise of the CPSC epidemiologists and economists; ignored the compelling medical testimony, overwhelming expert evidence and dire safety consequences and substituted their own opinion in favor of promoting “government restraint” on regulating industry…

The nation’s poison control centers recorded six times more magnet ingestions―totaling nearly 1,600 cases in 2019 alone—after the 10th circuit court decision allowed magnets back on the market…

The article details how the CPSC’s change in regulation has also led to deaths related to delays in recalling faulty infant inclined sleeps, with defective RZR All Terrain Vehicles, and the mismanaged recall of IKEA’s Malm dressers.

A related article was published in USA Today this week by Dr. Bryan Rudolph: Children can easily swallow high-powered magnets, it’s time to ban them for good

My take: What’s next up for our children? Outlawing lifeguards for pools? Repealing seat belt laws?  Perhaps it won’t matter –there are so many bigger threats that are not even on the radar.  YOYO.

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Image from Politico