When treating iron-deficiency anaemia, doctors prefer their patients to take iron by mouth, but should oral therapy fail, the iron is administered by injection.(1) Injectable iron remedies were introduced during the 1930s but could easily have been discarded. At that time, experiments in which anaemias were artificially induced in animals by iron deficiency or by repeated haemorrhage, led to the conclusion that injecting iron had no therapeutic value.(2) Fortunately, clinical studies proved that anaemic patients could be cured in this way.
Iron sorbitol is one form of injectable iron that might have been rejected for a different reason. Administration to rats and rabbits caused cancer at the injection site and the implications for human therapeutics appeared serious. However, clinical experience has revealed no real hazard to patients.(3)
1) British National Formulary, No.26 (BMA & Royal Pharmaceutical Society of G.B., 1993).
2) G.N.Burger & L.J.Witts, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1934, vol.27, 447-455.
3) M.Weatherall, Nature, 1982, April 1, 387-390.
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