The challenges of handling deferasirox in sickle cell disease patients older than 40 years

Hematology. 2019 Dec;24(1):596-600. doi: 10.1080/16078454.2019.1657667.


Objectives: Deferasirox is an oral iron chelator with established dose-dependent efficacy for the treatment of iron overload secondary to transfusion. However, there is few data reporting the use of Desferasirox in adult patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and transfusional iron overload.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, single center, nonrandomized study from January 2014 to March 2015 in Campinas, Brazil. Seven patients (five women, median age 50 y.o.) who were followed up on regular transfusion program were treated with a single daily dose of deferasirox (median dose 20 mg/kg). They were monitored for clinical symptoms, renal function and hepatotoxicity.

Results: One patient discontinued the study due to lack of compliance. Two patients reported mild to moderate adverse events (gastrointestinal disturbances). Five patients had the drug discontinued due to worsening of renal function. One patient had the drug discontinued due to severe hepatotoxicity that evolved to death; no patient finished the study. Discussion and conclusions: Deferasirox does not appear to be well tolerated in SCD patients older than 40 years, in which complications of the underlying disease are already fully installed. The choice of the ideal iron chelator for this population should include an evaluation of comorbidities and organic dysfunctions, as well as the need to find pharmacogenetic safety markers in this group of patients.

Keywords: Sickle cell disease; acute liver failure; hemochromatosis; iron chelation therapy; iron overload; nephrotoxicity; toxicity; transfusion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / pathology
  • Deferasirox / pharmacology
  • Deferasirox / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies


  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Deferasirox