November 2016 | Samhain 2016

New Treatment for Exhaustion Among Women in Ireland

Wed, 30 November 16 23:59

An Irish academic start-up company, Solvotrin Therapeutics has developed an innovative new iron supplement which, it is hoped, will more effectively address exhaustion, particularly among women of childbearing age.

Exhaustion has reached epidemic levels for Irish women, with new research revealing that 9 out of 10 women1 are struggling with extreme tiredness in their daily lives. The findings come as studies show that only 18% of Irish women of childbearing age get adequate iron from their diet2 and one in three women experiencing tiredness stop taking iron supplements because of side effects.3

Solvotrin Therapeutics, an Enterprise Ireland-backed company involving scientists from Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, have come up with an innovative and clinically proven solution to address iron deficiency, while being kind on the body.

"Women are currently battling on despite feeling tired or fatigued. Iron shortfalls are being overlooked here,”

says Dr Patricia Ryan, GP.

“Iron deficiency is a huge problem particularly for women and young adults in Ireland, but we need to understand that using caffeine or chocolate and even rest, may not be the solution. Many people have had bad experiences taking iron products because of side effects, and often try dietary measures such as ‘eating leafy greens’ which simply cannot address iron deficiency satisfactorily”.

The new iron formulation avoids side effects traditionally associated with iron, such as constipation and upset stomach, while also dramatically increasing the iron absorption in the body. This new iron, being marketed as Active Iron is considered a real breakthrough, providing a solution for those who suffer from tiredness caused by low iron.

Speaking at the launch of Active Iron in Dublin, Associate Professor at the TCD School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and a member of the team that developed Active Iron, Prof. John Gilmer said,

“Up to now, there has been no solution that provides raises serum iron without side effects such as nausea, constipation and stomach upset. Active Iron’s advanced formulation, not only addresses iron deficiency, but also protects the gut, avoiding these side effects. This makes Active Iron a game changer for Irish women who need more iron.”

According to Solvotrin cofounder and UCD Adjunct Clinical Professor, Prof Mark Ledwidge,

“Irish research shows that the majority of women before, during and after pregnancy, are not getting enough iron in their diets. Women and also adolescent girls are at particular risk because of blood loss during monthly menstruation and in addition, the need for iron also increases during pregnancy. Other at risk groups include vegetarians, vegans and endurance athletes. Iron is essential for energy production and oxygen transportation, so tiredness and lethargy are usually the first signs of a shortfall. Other warning signs include cold hands and feet, headache, feeling short of breath, pale skin, hair loss and heart palpitations.”

GPs and health professionals recommend and regularly prescribe iron, with the International gold-standard up to now being ferrous sulfate. However, these iron products are poorly absorbed and three out of four women taking iron experience unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea and heartburn. Active Iron protects the digestive system, by encasing the iron in protein microspheres, which break down in the small intestine where iron is best absorbed. In addition, clinical trials confirm that Active Iron’s advanced formulation doubles the amount of iron absorbed compared with the gold standard, while being so gentle on the digestive system that it can be taken on an empty stomach.

About Active Iron

Active Iron is now available in leading pharmacies in Ireland. Active Iron is suitable for children over 12 years old, adults, including pregnant women and the elderly. Active Iron is free from artificial preservatives, yeast, gluten, lactose, carbohydrates and sugar and is suitable for vegetarians. It is gentle enough to take on an empty stomach. Active Iron should be taken as part of a healthy diet. As with all supplements, you should discuss with your health professional before using if you are under medical supervision, taking other medicines or suffer from food allergies. For more information, please visit

About Solovtrin

Solvotrin is a TCD spin-out which won the EI Big Ideas award in 2010. Based in Little Island, Cork, Solovtrin cofounders were Pat O’Flynn (CEO), Mark Ledwidge and John Gilmer.

About Prof Mark Ledwidge, VP for Development Strategy

Prof Mark Ledwidge is a pharmacist and initially worked for Baxter Healthcare before completion of a PhD in pharmaceutics at TCD on behalf of Elan Corporation. He joined Servier Laboratories in 1997 as a Project Manager and then worked in marketing as Group Product Manager. In 2001 he completed a Diploma in Business Strategy and subsequently founded a number of businesses including Pharmacy Prime, the Heartbeat Trust and Cardio mark.

He also holds adjunct positions as Research Director in the Heart Failure Unit at St Vincent’s University Hospital and Senior Lecturer in the UCD School of Medicine. Mark’s research interests include cardiovascular therapeutics, biomarkers of hypertensive heart disease and telemedicine. He is a named inventor on several licensed patents and has published his research work extensively. He is Co-Chair of the National Pharmacy Reference Group of the pharmacy regulator in Ireland and has been a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Human Medicines of the Irish Medicines Board, the medicines licensing authority in Ireland, since 2007.

Mark’s role is to co-lead the R&D programme, further develop and implement Solvotrin Therapeutics’ commercial and marketing strategy, oversee the design and execution of preclinical and clinical trials, develop product acquisition, out-licensing and co-development strategies, position Solvotrin within the target markets and oversee product brand development


  1. Censuswide research for Solvotrin, April 2016. Total of women reporting extreme tiredness more than once, and once only — 87.3%, rounded to 87%
  2. O’Keeffe LM et al. BMJ Open 2016;6:e010233. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010233 – 17.6% (overall proportion of women taking adequate iron from diet in results text) rounded to 18%
  3. Censuswide research for Solvotrin, April 2016, Total of women experiencing extreme tiredness who- report having stopped iron products because of side effects - 27.01% rounded to 3 in 10.