Background: The efficacy of cardiac iron chelation in transfusion-dependent patients has been demonstrated in one-year prospective trials. Since normalization of cardiac T2* takes several years, the efficacy and safety of deferasirox was assessed for two years in patients with β-thalassemia major in the cardiac sub-study of the EPIC trial.
Design and methods: Eligible patients with myocardial T2* greater than 5 to less than 20 ms received deferasirox, with the primary endpoint being the change in T2* from baseline to two years.
Results: Baseline myocardial T2* was severe (> 5 to < 10 ms) in 39 patients, and moderate-to-mild (10 to < 20 ms) in 62 patients. Mean deferasirox dose was 33.1 ± 3.7 mg/kg/d in the one-year core study increasing to 36.1 ± 7.7 mg/kg/d during the second year of treatment. Geometric mean myocardial T2* increased from a baseline of 11.2 to 14.8 ms at two years (P < 0.001). In patients with moderate-to-mild baseline T2*, an increase was seen from 14.7 to 20.1 ms, with normalization (≥ 20 ms) in 56.7% of patients. In those with severe cardiac iron overload at baseline, 42.9% improved to the moderate-to-mild group. The incidence of drug-related adverse events did not increase during the extension relative to the core study and included (≥ 5%) increased serum creatinine, rash and increased alanine aminotransferase.
Conclusions: Continuous treatment with deferasirox for two years with a target dose of 40 mg/kg/d continued to remove iron from the heart in patients with β-thalassemia major and mild, moderate and severe cardiac siderosis. (Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT 00171821).
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00171821.