Hemin is used for the treatment of hepatic porphyria.  It is a group of disorders that result from a build-up of natural chemicals that creates porphyrin in your body. These are important for the function of hemoglobin. It is a protein in your red blood cells that links to porphyrin and binds iron. It also carries oxygen to your organs and tissues. High levels of porphyrins can cause significant problems. There are two general categories of porphyria:

  • Acute which mainly affects the nervous system
  • Cutaneous which mainly affects the skin

Some types of porphyria have both nervous system symptoms and skin symptoms. Symptoms of porphyria can vary widely in severity, by type, and among individuals.

Signs and symptoms of acute porphyria may include:

  • Pain in your legs, chest or back
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Red or brown urine
  • Muscle pain, numbness, tingling, weakness or paralysis
  • Breathing problems
  • mental changes (confusion, anxiety, hallucinations, disorientation or paranoia)
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats you can feel (palpitations)

Cutaneous porphyrias include forms of the disease that cause skin symptoms as a result of sensitivity to sunlight, but these forms don’t usually affect your nervous system. As a result of sun exposure, you may experience:

  • Erythema (sudden painful skin redness) and swelling (edema)
  • Sensitivity to the sun and sometimes artificial light, causing burning pain
  • Fragile thin skin with changes in skin color (pigment)
  • Blisters on exposed skin, usually the hands, arms, and face
  • Itching
  • Red or brown urine
  • Excessive hair growth in affected areas

This product is an enzyme inhibitor derived from processed red blood cells. This is used for the treatment of rare inherited metabolic disorders. That it can cause problems with the production of a protein called heme.

Hemin is a sterile and lyophilized powder suitable for intravenous administration. Each dispensing vial of this product contains the equivalent of 313 mg hemin, 215 mg sodium carbonate, and 300 mg of sorbitol. When mixed as directed with Sterile Water for Injection, each 43 mL provides the equivalent of approximately 301 mg hematin (7mg/mL). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication.

How does Hemin work?

Heme is necessary by the body to create hemoglobin. It is the red-colored protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Heme is also required by the body to produce other hemoproteins. It also includes some in the liver that is involved in metabolizing drugs and other chemicals.

This is typically produced in the body through a complex pathway of chemical reactions. Each stage is controlled by a specific chemical called an enzyme. In porphyria, there is a defect with one or more of these specific enzymes. The enzyme defect stops one or more of the chemical reactions in the pathway from happening. This also stops the pathway from reaching its end and producing heme. Instead, it causes a build-up of one or more of the intermediate chemicals in the pathway. These intermediate chemicals are called porphyrins. 

Human hemin injection is given to supplement the body with heme. This stops the body trying to produce heme naturally. This as well halts the formation of the intermediate porphyrins. This controls an acute attack of porphyria.

How to use Hemin?

The recommended dosage is based on your condition, age, and response to the treatment. You must take this medication exactly as it is given by your doctor. You should not take more or less than the prescription. Your doctor may direct you to start at a low dose and gradually increase it.

Hemin is given as a drip into a vein or intravenous infusion. The drip is usually given over at least half an hour, once a day for four days. The treatment should be started as soon as possible. It is after the onset of an attack. The earlier the treatment starts the greater its effectiveness.

Before using, check the product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol before injecting each dose. To get the most benefit from it, use the medication regularly. Remember to use the prescription at the same time and in the same way each day. Let your doctor know if your condition gets worse or if it does not improve. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose.

What are the side effects of Hemin?

  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Changes in skin color
  • Swelling of the foot or leg tenderness
  • Pain, redness, itching, tenderness, swelling, or warmth on the skin
  • Bluish color
  • Fever

Stop using this product and call your doctor if you have these:

  • Easy bruising or bleeding (bleeding gums or nosebleeds)
  • Swelling, irritation, or pain sound the IV needle
  • Little or no urinating
  • Swelling
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Rapid gain weight

Get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Hives or skin rash
  • Trouble or difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your lips, face, tongue, or throat

Warnings and Precautions

  • Before starting this treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or may be pregnant before starting this medication. As well as if you are breastfeeding women, consult your doctor first.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking this medication.
  • You may experience dizziness or drowsiness. Avoid driving or using any machinery that requires your alertness.
  • Call for medical help and stop taking the drug if there are any signs of an overdose.
  • Before using this, let your doctor know if you have ever had kidney or liver disease.
  • Do not receive any vaccination or immunization while having this treatment without the consent of your doctor.
  • You should not share this prescription with others even if they have the same symptoms as yours.