Iron replacement therapy: assessing today's options to prepare for bundling.

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Nephrology news & issues


New Medicare rules that set forth a revised reimbursement scheme for dialysis services will introduce significant changes for providers. The new rules will abandon the current system of separate reimbursement for drugs associated with the hemodialysis services, including erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) and intravenous (i.v.) iron. These rules will "bundle" these agents and related laboratory tests into a single, case-mix adjusted composite rate. These bundling rules will be gradually phased-in, beginning in 2011. One of the primary effects of the new reimbursement policy will be to discourage over-utilization of ESAs that comprise nearly one-quarter of hemodialysis-related Medicare expenditures. As a result, hemodialysis providers will be challenged to make hemodialysis services more cost-effective, while ensuring that Medicare clinical performance measures are met and patient care is not compromised. i.v. iron has an integral role in making anemia care more cost-effective in the hemodialysis setting by improving measures of iron-deficiency anemia, maintaining necessary iron balance, and reducing the utilization of ESAs. This review discusses the potential benefits of i.v. iron in the management of hemodialysis patients with iron-deficiency anemia. It also focuses on the available i.v. iron options, particularly the established efficacy and safety profile of i.v. iron dextran compared with other i.v. iron formulations as well as cost considerations.

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