deferoxamine (Desferal)

Brand Names: Desferal

Generic Name: deferoxamine

What is deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Deferoxamine binds to iron and removes it from the bloodstream.

Deferoxamine is used to treat acute (immediate) iron overdose.

Deferoxamine is also used to treat chronic (long-term) iron overload caused by repeated blood transfusions.

Deferoxamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • blurred vision, poor night vision, trouble seeing colors, trouble with side (peripheral) vision, seeing halos around lights;
  • eye pain, or a cloudy appearance in the eye;
  • pain behind your eyes;
  • ringing in your ears, hearing problems;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • little or no urination;
  • shortness of breath or rapid breathing;
  • fever;
  • severe, watery, bloody diarrhea with cramping;
  • flushing (sudden warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
  • stuffy nose, fever, redness or swelling around your nose and eyes, scabbing inside your nose;
  • muscle weakness, bone pain;
  • seizure; o
  • confusion, problems with speech or memory.

Some side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Long-term use of deferoxamine can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common side effects may include:

  • reddish colored urine;
  • muscle spasm;
  • numbness, tingling, burning pain;
  • unusual bruising or bleeding;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • dizziness; or
  • pain, burning, swelling, redness, rash, itching, blistering, scarring, or a hard lump where the medicine was injected.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about deferoxamine (Desferal)?

You should not use this medicine if you have severe kidney disease, or if you are unable to urinate.

What should I discuss with my health care provider before using deferoxamine (Desferal)?

You should not use deferoxamine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
  • heart disease;
  • liver disease;
  • vision or hearing problems;
  • asthma or other breathing disorder;
  • low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia); or
  • a parathyroid disorder.

If you need to have any type of x-ray or CT scan using a dye that is injected into a vein, you may need to temporarily stop using deferoxamine. Be sure the doctor knows ahead of time that you are using deferoxamine.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Deferoxamine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 3 years old.

How should I use deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Deferoxamine is sometimes injected into a muscle. Deferoxamine may also be given over 8 to 24 hours using an infusion pump attached to a catheter placed under your skin or into a vein. A healthcare provider may teach you how to properly use the medication by yourself.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you don't understand all instructions.

Deferoxamine must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. When using injections by yourself, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine.

Prepare an injection only when you are ready to give it. It is best to use deferoxamine within 3 hours after mixing it. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Throw away the medicine if it has been longer than 24 hours since it was mixed with the liquid.

Your doctor may tell you to take a vitamin C supplement. Follow all instructions about how much vitamin C to take and when to start taking it. Using too much vitamin C while you are using deferoxamine can cause heart problems.

Do not take vitamin C supplements without your doctor's advice if you have heart failure.

You will need frequent medical tests. You may also need eye exams. If a child is using deferoxamine, a doctor should check the child's growth every 3 months.

Each dose of deferoxamine is for one use only. Throw away any mixed medicine that is leftover after giving the injection.

Store deferoxamine at room temperature. You may store mixed medicine at room temperature for up to 24 hours, but do not refrigerate it.

Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof "sharps" container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.


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What happens if I miss a dose (Desferal)?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose (Desferal)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include slow or fast heart rate, nausea, stomach discomfort, headache, pale skin, confusion, problems with vision or speech, feeling drowsy or agitated, urinating less than usual, or fainting.

What should I avoid while using deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

What other drugs will affect deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect deferoxamine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information (Desferal)?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about deferoxamine.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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Reviewed on 10/12/2022

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