Lanthanum carbonate: a new phosphate binder

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Hyperphosphatemia remains an important aspect in the management of end-stage renal disease patients. Consequently, there is a need for new, efficient and well-tolerated phosphate binders. In this review, a new phosphate-binding drug, lanthanum carbonate, with an attractive preclinical efficacy profile compared with existing binders, is discussed. Although the available human efficacy and safety data over 3 years are encouraging, the consequences of low-level tissue deposition continue to be evaluated in longer-term clinical studies.

Recent findings

Lanthanum carbonate has been shown in clinical studies of up to 3 years to be an effective, well-tolerated phosphate binder. Reported adverse effects are mainly gastrointestinal, and do not differ from those of calcium carbonate. The gastrointestinal absorption of lanthanum is very low. Whereas the element is mainly excreted by the liver, renal excretion of the absorbed fraction is less than 2%. Bone lanthanum levels seen after long-term treatment (up to 4 years) seem not to affect the physicochemical process of mineralization, or osteoblast number/function. Preliminary data on the localization of lanthanum in bone have shown the element to be present at both active and quiescent sites of bone mineralization, independent of the type of renal osteodystrophy, a profile distinct from aluminum, as well as diffusely distributed throughout the mineralized bone matrix especially in rats/humans with an increased bone turnover. A randomized, comparator-controlled, parallel group, open-label study comparing lanthanum carbonate with calcium carbonate in dialysis patients showed no evolution towards low bone turnover in the lanthanum group, and no aluminum-like effect on bone.

Summary

Lanthanum carbonate seems to be a potent phosphate-binding drug, minimally absorbed from the gut, with an encouraging safety profile, and no deleterious effects on bone.

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