FDA OKs Hyperkalemia Rx

Veltassa (patiromer for oral suspension) approved to treat hyperkalemia by FDA

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) A new medication could help patients with a serious condition called hyperkalemia.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Wednesday approved a drug from Relypsa, Inc., called Veltassa (patiromer for oral suspension). This drug treats hyperkalemia, a condition marked by too much potassium in the blood.

“Too much potassium in the blood can lead to dangerous, even fatal, changes in heart rhythm,” said Norman Stockbridge, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Renal Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press release. “It is important to have treatment options for hyperkalemia available to patients.”

Kidney disease patients are often at risk of hyperkalemia. That's because the kidneys work to maintain the right amount of potassium in the body. If the kidneys aren't working, potassium can build up, leading to hyperkalemia.

That's where Veltassa could come in. This drug comes in the form of a powder, which is mixed with water and taken orally. According to the FDA, Veltassa works to bind with potassium, decreasing the absorption of potassium.

The FDA approved Veltassa after the drug appeared effective and safe in clinical trials of chronic kidney disease patients with hyperkalemia.

In a press release, the agency noted that Veltassa comes with a boxed warning. It warns that the new hyperkalemia drug can bind "many other orally administered drugs" and therefore reduce their absorption and effects. 

"The warning recommends taking [Veltassa] and any other orally administered medication at least six hours apart," according to the FDA press release.

Other reported adverse effects of Veltassa were diarrhea, nausea, constipation and decreased blood magnesium levels, among others.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 22, 2015
Last Updated:
October 22, 2015