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New Delhi: Indian medical scientists have developed a cheap one-shot iron injection that has no side effects, researchers and health ministry officials said, a potential health aid in a country with some of the world’s highest iron deficiency rates.

The intravenous (IV) iron jab, developed by researchers at AIIMS Delhi, will be administered to pregnant women.

“Under the (Centre’s) Anaemia Mukt Bharat scheme, pregnant women are given iron tablets. However, there are certain cases of severe anemia where injections are required which are usually administered in five or six sittings. But we have seen that post injections, women tend to face certain complications,” said an official.

“This indigenous iron injection doesn’t have any side-effects and needs to be administered only once. This will not just help to reduce the anaemia-prone population but also save lives of women who succumb during delivery or suffers miscarriage.”

Currently, iron and folic acid tablets are given every day to pregnant women under the scheme from the second trimester. India has the greatest anaemia burden among children and pregnant women. 

The prevalence of anaemia as per the National Family Health Survey 5 (2019-21), is 25% in men (15-49 years) and 57% in women (15-49 years). 31% in adolescent boys (15-19 yrs), 59% in adolescent girls, 52.2% in pregnant women (15-49 years) and 67% in children (6-59 months).

Under IV iron infusion a combination of iron and saline solution is delivered directly into the bloodstream in patients suffering from iron deficiency and chronic kidney disease.

“We started doing the research on developing it since 2013 and now we have this product available in market. The molecules used in the injection were earlier imported from Belgium and Switzerland but, based on Indian population, it has been modified by researchers at AIIMS. The cost of the injection was earlier around 3,000 but now, with modification, the cost has been brought down to 300. This will help in saving severe anaemic cases and life saving intervention,” said Dr Kapil Yadav, a researcher at AIIMS Delhi.

Experts are hoping that the molecules can also be developed in India in the future, which will help to further cut costs.

“We are trying to encourage generic version of the molecule in India; we want the pharma industries to take it up. In western countries, the molecule is used for kidney or cancer cases since there aren’t much anaemia reports among women. But here, it can be a game changer and not just in India — the plan should involve exporting it to South Asian countries as well,” Dr Yadav said.

 

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Published: 04 Apr 2024, 06:14 PM IST

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