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AstraZeneca's Lokelma approved in China for reducing potassium in blood

AstraZeneca PLC's Lokelma was approved in China to treat adults with hyperkalemia, or elevated potassium levels in the blood.

Lokelma, or sodium zirconium cyclosilicate, was able to reduce patients' potassium levels in as quick as one hour in a clinical study and the treatment effect lasted for up to one year, the Cambridge, U.K.-based drugmaker said.

High potassium levels can lead to cardiac arrest or even death. If not treated immediately, mortality rate for severe hyperkalemia can be as high as 30%. Kidney disease and eating too much food that is high in potassium, such as bananas and cantaloupe, can elevate potassium levels, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

China's National Medical Products Administration listed Lokelma as one of the urgently needed overseas drugs in 2019, according to AstraZeneca's filing to the London Stock Exchange on Jan. 6.

Lokelma is already approved by regulators in the U.S., Canada and Europe for treating hyperkalemia. The drug is also under review in Japan with a decision anticipated in the first half of 2020.