Veltassa Drug Class, Indications, Mechanism of Action

Veltassa belongs to the class of drugs called “potassium-binding resins”. Its actual name or medical name is Patiromer Sorbitex Calcium. 

It binds to the dietary potassium that we ingest and prevents its absorption. In exchange, it releases its calcium, hence it is a calcium-exchange potassium-binding resin.

Although very specific and a much safer option than Kayexalate (Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate), it can also bind to other cations like Magnesium and causes hypomagnesemia.

Veltassa Drug Class: Potassium-binding resin

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Veltassa Indications:

Veltassa is indicated for the maintenance treatment of hyperkalemia (high potassium in the blood). It is available as oral single-use packets that contain 8.4 gm, 16.8 gm, or 25.2 gm of Patiromer.

The FDA approved its use in 2015 for the chronic and long-term management of hyperkalemia. In emergency settings, where, rapid lowering of plasma potassium is required, other modalities such as insulin, sodium bicarbonate, glucose infusion, salbutamol, furosemide, and hemodialysis are recommended rather than Veltassa.

Note: Veltassa is not recommended to rapidly lower the plasma potassium. It is not an emergency medicine.

Veltassa Mechanism of Action:

The average potassium intake of a person is about 2.5 to 3.5 gm per day. About 80 to 90% of the potassium in our diets gets absorbed into the systemic circulation.

Although potassium is mainly found in the intracellular environment, because patients with renal failure can not excrete potassium, its levels go up in the blood.

High potassium levels can be life-threatening as it can cause cardiac arrhythmias.

Veltassa binds the potassium that is present in the intestine (along with other cations such as magnesium) and prevents its absorption from the gut into the blood. Thus, instead of the 80 – 90% potassium that gets absorbed, only a small amount is absorbed.

The potassium that attaches to Veltassa is then excreted in the feces. Thus, this is a slow process. In fact, it takes about seven hours for Veltassa to start lowering potassium levels.

In trials, it was shown that Veltassa lowers plasma potassium by about -1.23 mEq/L (Veltassa Vs Kayexalate).

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