Iron chelation therapy: clinical effectiveness, economic burden and quality of life in patients with iron overload

Adv Ther. 2008 Aug;25(8):725-42. doi: 10.1007/s12325-008-0085-z.


Introduction: This study of UK patients examines clinical, health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and economic outcomes associated with iron chelation therapy (ICT). Desferrioxamine (DFO) (Desferal; Novartis, Switzerland) and Deferiprone (Ferriprox; Apotex, Canada) are ICTs used to treat iron overload. DFO requires 8-to 12-hour infusions a minimum of five times per week. Deferiprone is administered in an oral daily regimen. Although pharmacologically efficacious, clinical effectiveness of ICT within the real-world setting is yet to be fully elucidated.

Methods: A naturalistic cohort study of 60 patients (beta-thalassaemia, n=40; sickle cell disease, n=14; myelodysplastic syndromes, n=6; 63% female) receiving ICT in four UK treatment centres was conducted. Serum ferritin level data were abstracted from medical charts. Compliance, HRQOL, satisfaction and resource utilisation data were collected from interviews. Maximum ICT costs were estimated using the resource utilisation data associated with DFO.

Results: Mean serum ferritin levels, generally, remained elevated despite ICT. Compliance was suboptimal and HRQOL scores were lower than population norms. The total estimated mean weighted annual per-patient cost of DFO treatment was approximately pound19,000. DFO-related equipment, DFO drug, and home healthcare were estimated to account for 43%, 19% and 24% of costs, respectively. Other more minor components of total annual costs were for in-patient infusions, ICT home delivery services and monitoring costs.

Conclusion: Generally, patients are not achieving target serum ferritin thresholds despite chronic treatment for iron overload. ICT appears to negatively impact HRQOL; compliance with ICT is poor; and, in the case of DFO, treatment costs well exceed the cost of DFO alone. These results suggest that current ICT in the real-world setting is suboptimal with respect to various clinical, HRQOL and economic outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chelation Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Chelation Therapy* / economics
  • Child
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Deferiprone
  • Deferoxamine / adverse effects
  • Deferoxamine / economics
  • Deferoxamine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Humans
  • Iron Chelating Agents / adverse effects
  • Iron Chelating Agents / economics
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Iron Overload / blood
  • Iron Overload / drug therapy*
  • Iron Overload / economics
  • Male
  • Pyridones / adverse effects
  • Pyridones / economics
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Young Adult


  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Pyridones
  • Deferiprone
  • Ferritins
  • Deferoxamine