A multicentre randomized open-label trial was designed to assess the effectiveness of long-term sequential deferiprone-deferoxamine (DFO-DFP) versus DFP alone to treat thalassaemia major (TM). DFP at 75 mg/kg, divided into three oral daily doses, for 4 d/week and DFO by subcutaneous infusion (8-12 h) at 50 mg/kg per day for the remaining 3 d/week was compared with DFP alone at 75 mg/kg, administered 7 d/week during a 5-year follow-up. The main outcome measures were differences between multiple observations of serum ferritin concentrations. Secondary outcomes were survival analysis, adverse events, and costs. Consecutive thalassaemia patients (275) were assessed for eligibility; 213 of these were randomized and underwent intention-to-treat analysis. The decrease of serum ferritin levels during the treatment period was statistically significant higher in sequential DFP-DFO patients compared with DFP-alone patients (P = 0.005). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis for the two chelation treatments did not show any statistically significant differences (long-rank test, P = 0.3145). Adverse events and costs were comparable between the groups. The trial results show that sequential DFP-DFO treatment compared with DFP alone significantly decreased serum ferritin concentration during treatment for 5 years without significant differences regarding survival, adverse events, or costs.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00733811.