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07.04.2016 – 09:08

Vifor Pharma GmbH

Recent Survey Shows That 1 in 3 People Do Not Know Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Despite 1 in 10 Currently Suffering or Having Suffered From the Condition

London (ots/PRNewswire)

- Landmark European  Iron Deficiency Survey highlights the lack of 
  awareness of the  condition, which currently impacts more people 
  than both diabetes and chronic heart failure worldwide.  
- The survey findings published to coincide with World Health Day 
  2016, which this year will be dedicated to raising awareness of 
- Market research measuring awareness across 7 markets, with over 
  1,000 surveyed in each locality,  finds that 1 in 10 people suffer 
  or have suffered from iron deficiency during the course of their 
  lives. Out of these, 1 in 3 people  had not heard of iron 
  deficiency before being diagnosed.  
- Those countries with the lowest awareness of iron deficiency and 
  iron deficiency anaemia were Portugal and France, whilst those with
  the highest awareness include  Sweden and the UK.   

One in three Europeans surveyed do not know the symptoms of iron deficiency, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Vifor Pharma[1]. The market research, undertaken by Kantar Health, highlights a profound lack of understanding and awareness of the symptoms of both iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia, at a time when iron deficiency is more prevalent than diabetes and chronic heart failure worldwide[2],[3],[4].

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The survey of over 10,000 adults across seven countries highlights the significant lack of awareness around the symptoms associated with the condition, despite almost 50% of sufferers confirming the condition to have a notable negative impact on their working life, and one in three describing their condition as severe or very severe at the time of diagnosis.

The summary report launched today and available on, also highlights how men and women share many of the concerns around iron deficiency impacting their everyday lives, such as a lack of concentration and impairment to their professional productivity. Over a third of patients surveyed also feel that iron deficiency impacts their personal relationships negatively; for example, one in four feel the condition affects their sex life.

The survey found that it took an average of over 2.5 years for the sufferers to be prescribed a treatment for iron deficiency. This is despite patients' perceiving the condition to negatively impact their own wellbeing more than any other aspect of quality of life. For example, more than 60% of patients find that iron deficiency has a negative impact on their ability to concentrate and half stated that it stopped them from being active.

Professor Toby Richards, Professor of Surgery at University College London, commented:

"Published on World Health Day, this report highlights that despite iron deficiency affecting a larger population than many other conditions, the lack of understandingand recognitionis far greater. It also clearly illustrates that there may be a large undiagnosed population who are unaware of the symptomscaused byiron deficiency. With half of those suffererswho did not experience any symptomsdiscovering their condition by accident during a visit to their doctor, we must now look to raise awareness of iron deficiency as a European-wide issue.

The situation ismore extremein those unwell or with illness whereiron deficiency and anaemia can affect a third of people coming into hospital, and this is associated with a longerhospital stay and worse outcome."

Symptomsnot widely known

The report also revealed that the main symptom that drove those to consult a health care professional was tiredness/fatigue, which was mentioned as the first symptom experienced, followed by pale skin and poor attention.

Of those 6,986 people surveyed and aware of iron deficiency, 64% recognised tiredness/fatigue as the most common symptom, which can be attributed to iron deficiency. This was followed by suffering symptoms including; pale skin (37%), headaches (21%), poor attention (20%) and (19%) brittle (poor condition) of nails respectively. Women were found to be more concerned about the cognitive, as well as physical impact of the condition, which can include the paleness of skin, brittle nails and hair loss[5]. However, the survey also identified that many symptoms were not recognised or known by those surveyed, these include; mouth ulcers, infection, sore tongue, restless legs syndrome, cold intolerance and craving non-food items.

    Symptoms and
    Comorbidities  Description
Feeling mentally tired, irritable, dizzy or losing
concentration quickly
    Mouth ulcers   Sore, white patches on 
the inside of mouth or sore, red,
                   flaky cracks at 
one or both sides of mouth

    Infection      May cause more 
infections than usual, such as coughs and colds
    Shortness of   
Reduced physical capacity
Craving to eat ice or non-food items such as clay, dirt, ash

non-food       and starch
    Restless legs  A disturbing need to 
move legs even when resting
    Hair loss      Losing clumps of hair 
or more hair than normal
    Headaches      Repeated headaches

Sore tongue    Affects the surface of the tongue making it feel sore 
                   gives a dry mouth
    Paleness       Most 
noticeable on the face, nails, inner mouth, and lining of eyes

Physical       Feeling physically tired
    fatigue /

    Brittle nails  Chip and crack easily
    Cold           Cold 
hands and/or feet may mean that there is not enough
oxygen being delivered in the blood

Table 1:Generalsymptoms andperceptions around iron deficiency. Adapted from Clark (2008)

Professor Toby Richards continued:"This survey further illustrates that this is a condition that is insidious.Iron deficiency is one of the most frequent metabolic disorders at a European level, despite being easy to diagnose and treat. Although clinical studies show that treating iron deficiency improves peoples' quality of life,it remainsunderlooked and is often ignored. Given its prevalence and impact on its sufferers, it should not be left untreated."


Research Methodology

The survey was conducted by Kantar Health during July - August 2015, across 7 countries including: UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden - with over 1,000 nationally-representative adult respondents in each market. By analysing the total number of participants who took part in the survey vs. those who qualified being aware of ID and/or IDA it allowed to calculate awareness levels amongst the general population. 1,000 adults aged 18+ per country took part in this nationally representative survey. The survey was administered online and took the form of a 5-minute quantitative interview with the general population and a further 20 minute questionnaire for those who self-reported being diagnosed with ID/IDA. Various quality control procedures were in place in order to reach a unique, genuine and representative audience in each country.

About Vifor Pharma

Vifor Pharma, a company of the Galenica Group, is a world leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of iron deficiency. The company also offers a diversified portfolio of prescription medicines as well as over-the-counter (OTC) products. Vifor Pharma, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, has an increasingly global presence and a broad network of affiliates and partners around the world. For more information about Vifor Pharma and its parent company Galenica, please visit and

About Kantar Health

Kantar Health is a leading global healthcare consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world's leading pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device and diagnostic companies. It combines evidence-based research capabilities with deep scientific, therapeutic and clinical knowledge, commercial development know-how, and brand and marketing expertise to help clients evaluate opportunities, launch products and maintain brand and market leadership.

Kantar Health deeply understands the influence of patients, payers and physicians, especially as they relate to the performance and payment of medicines and the delivery of healthcare services. Its 600+ healthcare industry specialists work across the product lifecycle, from preclinical development to launch, acting as catalysts to successful decision-making in life sciences and helping clients prioritize their product development and portfolio activities, differentiate their brands and drive product success post-launch. Kantar Health is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP. For more information, please visit


1. The European iron deficiency survey. Data on file; 2016, Vifor 
2. Miller JL, Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease 
   Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2013; doi: 
3. WHO - Media centre - Diabetes (Fact sheet N°312, updated January 
   2015.  Available at Last accessed 
   14. March 2016.
4. Ponikowski P et al., Heart failure: preventing disease and death 
   worldwide White paper: 2014 DOI: 10.1002/ehf2.12005.
5. Clark SF, Iron deficiency anemia Nutr Clin Pract. Apr-May; .2008 
   23(2):128-41doi: 10.1177/0884533608314536.
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Original content of: Vifor Pharma GmbH, transmitted by news aktuell