Shire Pharmaceuticals’ Fosrenol (lanthanum carbonate) is safe and well tolerated when used for up to six years to lower blood phosphorus levels in patients with end-stage kidney disease receiving dialysis, according to data presented at the American Society of Nephrology meeting in Philadelphia on 12 November.

This is good news for Shire, as it goes a long way to dealing with concerns about potential unexpected adverse effects following long-term treatment. Further reassurance about the safety of Fosrenol was also provided in Philadelphia by studies that found no liver toxicity or haematological adverse effects in dialysis patients receiving Fosrenol for up to two years.

Abnormally high blood phosphorus (hyperphosphataemia) in dialysis patients is an important problem because it results in bone disease and is increasingly recognised as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Dialysis alone cannot control blood phosphorus, so patients must restrict dietary intake of the mineral and take several tablets with every meal to bind phosphorus in the gastrointestinal tract and prevent it from entering the bloodstream.

Since hyperphosphataemia affects up to 80% of dialysis patients and is difficult to control with standard therapies, Fosrenol has been taken up rapidly in the US, and is likely to be greeted enthusiastically when it launches in Europe. News in Philadelphia of the future availability of a 1,000 mg tablet will probably make the welcome for Fosrenol even warmer, as this will help to reduce dialysis patients’ tablet burden and could potentially improve adherence to treatment.

Source: Sue Lyon at he ASN in Philadelphia, USA.