How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Iron dextran belongs to a class of medications known as iron supplements. It is an injectable form of iron that is used to treat iron-deficiency anemia when oral iron supplements cannot be taken or when oral iron supplements have not produced the needed results.

Iron is important for the production of red blood cells. It helps red blood cells to carry oxygen to the various parts of the body.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than the ones listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are receiving this medication, speak to your doctor.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each mL of injection contains elemental iron 50 mg as an iron dextran complex and sodium chloride 0.9% in water for injection. Sodium hydroxide and/or hydrochloric acid may be used to adjust pH. This medication does not contain preservatives.

How should I use this medication?

Iron dextran is usually injected into a muscle in the buttocks by a doctor or qualified health care professional. In some circumstances, it is given intravenously (into a vein) in the hospital. The dose of iron dextran you receive will be determined by the doctor based on your needs. Injections are usually given once daily until iron levels return to normal or as decided by the doctor.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications.

It is important this medication be given exactly as recommended by your doctor. If you miss an appointment to receive iron dextran, contact your doctor as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.

It is important not to take iron supplements by mouth if you are receiving iron injections, as this may cause an overload of iron. (See "Who should not take this medication?")

This medication is stored at room temperature but should not be allowed to freeze.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not receive this medication if you:

  • are allergic to iron or any ingredients of the medication
  • are taking oral iron supplements
  • have a history of asthma (if the intravenous injection is used)
  • have an acute kidney infection
  • have anemia other than iron deficiency anemia

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is used in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who uses this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • backache
  • brownish colouring of the skin (fades within weeks or months)
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • feeling unwell
  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach pain

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • chest pain
  • fast heart rate
  • fever with increased sweating
  • pain or redness at the place of injection
  • itchy skin
  • skin rash

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • fainting
  • seizures
  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth or throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergies and asthma: If you have or have had significant allergies or asthma, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Delayed side effects: You may experience some delayed side effects that may not occur until 1 or 2 days after receiving an injection. These side effects usually subside within 3 to 7 days and can include aching muscles and joints, backache, chills, dizziness, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and generally feeling unwell. If these symptoms are bothersome, contact your doctor.

Heart disease: If you have heart disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Liver problems: If you have severely reduced liver function or severe liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Rheumatoid arthritis: If you have rheumatoid arthritis you may experience a worsening of joint pain and swelling following the injection of iron dextran. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while receiving this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using iron dextran, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of this medication have not been established for infants less than 4 months of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There is an interaction between iron dextran and oral iron supplements. Do not take oral iron supplements along with iron dextran, as this can cause iron overload (a condition where there is too much iron in the body).

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.