A randomized controlled 1-year study of daily deferiprone plus twice weekly desferrioxamine compared with daily deferiprone monotherapy in patients with thalassemia major

Haematologica. 2007 Dec;92(12):1599-606. doi: 10.3324/haematol.11414.


Background and objectives: The aim of this prospective, randomized, 1-year study was to compare the efficacy and safety of oral deferiprone (DFP) with those of combinations of parenteral desferrioxamine (DFO) with oral DFP.

Design and methods: A total of 24 patients with thalassemia major were randomized to receive one of the following two treatments; DFP given at a daily dose of 75 mg/kg in combination with DFO (40-50 mg/kg twice weekly) (n=12) or as single agent (n=12). In addition, 12 patients treated with 40-50 mg/kg DFO 5 days weekly were included as a reference group without randomization. Changes in liver iron concentration (LIC) and serum ferritin (SF) were assessed; total iron excretion (TIE), urinary iron excretion (UIE) and iron balance were calculated. Cardiac function and toxicity were also examined.

Design and methods: SF and LIC were significantly reduced after 1 year of combination therapy (p=0.01 and 0.07, respectively). A decrease of LIC was observed in all but one patient (87.5%) following the combination therapy but in only 42% of patients treated with DFP monotherapy. In the DFO reference group, a statistically significant decrease in LIC (p=0.01) associated with a substantial decrease in SF (p=0.08) was observed after 1 year. The combination regimen resulted in greater TIE compared to DFP monotherapy (p=0.08) and was the regimen associated with the highest iron balance compared to DFP monotherapy (p=0.04) or standard DFO treatment (p=0.006).

Interpretations and conclusions: The addition of subcutaneous DFO twice weekly to oral DFP 75 mg/kg is a highly efficacious and safe chelation therapy providing superior chelation activity to that of DFP and likely has an efficacy profile comparable to that of standard DFO.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Deferiprone
  • Deferoxamine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron / urine
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Pyridones / administration & dosage*
  • Siderophores / administration & dosage*
  • Time Factors
  • beta-Thalassemia / blood
  • beta-Thalassemia / drug therapy*
  • beta-Thalassemia / urine


  • Pyridones
  • Siderophores
  • Deferiprone
  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Deferoxamine