Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS or Kayexalate), a treatment for hyperkalemia, was approved by the FDA in 1958, which was before the time the FDA required safety and efficacy reporting for drug approval. In 2009, the FDA issued a warning about the association of kayexalate-sorbitol use (which is the common preparation used in the US) due to reports of colonic necrosis. This study reviewed efficacy data for kayexalate-sorbitol and found no convincing evidence that it significantly lowers serum potassium. Given the lack of efficacy data, and recent reports of harm, we should question our use of this drug in hospitalized patients (abstract)
Dr. Scheurer is a clinical hospitalist and the Medical Director of Quality and Safety at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina, and is Assistant Professor of Medicine. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, completed her residency at Duke University, and completed her Masters in Clinical Research at the Medical University of South Carolina. She also serves as the Web Editor and Physician Advisor for the Society of Hospital Medicine.