GENERIC NAME: sodium polystyrene sulfonate
BRAND NAME: Kalexate, Kayexalate, Kionex, SP
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is a cation-exchange resin taken orally that is used to reduce high levels of potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia). Sodium polystyrene sulfonate removes potassium by exchanging sodium ions for potassium ions in the intestine. The majority of this cation exchange seems to take place in the large intestine where potassium ions are excreted in greater amounts.
In-vitro studies have shown that each gram of resin removes roughly 3 mEq of potassium. However, actual removal of potassium in patients is closer to 1 mEq per gram of medication. Sodium polystyrene sulfonate starts working over a period of several hours and therefore should not be used to treat life-threatening episodes of acute hyperkalemia.
Sodium polystyrene sulfonate was initially approved by the US FDA in 1958.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is used for treating high potassium levels in the blood (hyperkalemia).
Other side effects include:
- hypokalemia (low levels of potassium levels in the blood),
- hypocalcemia (low levels of calcium levels in the blood),
- heart rhythm abnormalities, and
Large oral doses have been reported to cause fecal impaction in the elderly, while large rectal doses have caused fecal impaction in children.
Colonic necrosis is one of the most serious side effects reported with rectal administration of sodium polystyrene sulfonate.
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