sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Kalexate, Kayexalate, Kionex, SP)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is sodium polystyrene sulfonate-powder, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

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.

What brand names are available for sodium polystyrene sulfonate-powder?

Kalexate, Kayexalate, Kionex, SP

Is sodium polystyrene sulfonate-powder available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for sodium polystyrene sulfonate-powder?


What are the side effects of sodium polystyrene sulfonate-powder?

The most common side effects associated with sodium polystyrene sulfonate treatment are gastrointestinal (affecting the stomach and intestines).

Other side effects include:

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.

Rare but serious side effects are:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/16/2017
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors