Clinical efficacy and safety of IV ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) treatment of RLS: A multi-centred, placebo-controlled preliminary clinical trial

Richard P. Allen, Charles H. Adler, Wei Du, Angelia Butcher, David B. Bregman, Christopher J. Earley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Objective: Intravenous (IV) iron has been used as a treatment to reduce Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) symptoms, but two double-blinded trials of a frequently prescribed IV iron formulation, iron sucrose, failed to show lasting efficacy. This study evaluates efficacy and safety of a new IV iron formulation (ferric carboxymaltose, FCM) with molecular properties that may make iron more available for uptake to the brain than iron sucrose does. Methods: In this 28-day, multi-centre, randomised, placebo-controlled trial 46 RLS patients were discontinued from all RLS treatment. Twenty-four received 500 mg FCM in two doses 5 days apart and 22 received a matching placebo. At day 28, those on placebo were given a single 1000 mg IV FCM and those not responding to initial treatment were given a third dose of 500 mg FCM. Patients were followed up for 24 weeks or until needing added RLS treatment. Results: FCM significantly improved primary and secondary outcomes compared to placebo: International Restless Legs Syndrome study group severity scale (IRLS) average (SD) decrease of 8.9 (8.52) versus 4.0 (6.11), p= 0.040; Clinical Global Inventory of Change (CGI-1) very much or much improved 48.3% versus 14.3%, p= 0.004. Quality of life was also significantly improved. Of the 24 with initial iron treatment 45% responded and 29% remitted (IRLS ≤ 10) at day 28, and 25% continued free of other RLS medications at 24 weeks after treatment. The single 1000 mg dose on day 28 produced the same degree of treatment response as the divided dose, but the added 500 mg dose for those not responding to the initial treatment showed little benefit. There were no significant adverse events. Conclusions: IV FCM provided a safe and effective treatment for RLS that lasted for at least 24 weeks for some patients. Larger studies are needed to confirm these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-913
Number of pages8
JournalSleep Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Clinical trial
  • FCM
  • Ferric carboxymaltose
  • IV iron
  • Iron treatment
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
  • Willis-Ekbom disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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