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.