Iron overload is one of the major causes of morbidity in patients with thalassemia major. Deferiprone (DFP), an orally active iron chelator, emerged from an extensive search for new drugs to treat iron overload. Comparative studies have shown that at comparable doses the efficacy of DFP in removing body iron is similar to that of desferoxamine (DFO). In retrospective and prospective studies, DFP monotherapy was significantly more effective than DFO in the treatment of myocardial siderosis in thalassemia major. DFP can be used in combination with DFO in the management of severe iron overload. This chelation regimen is tolerable and attractive for patients unable to comply with standard DFO infusions or with inadequate response to DFP monotherapy. DFP has a well-known long-term safety profile. Agranulocytosis is the most serious side effect associated with its use, occurring in about 1% of the patients. More common but less serious side effects are gastrointestinal symptoms, arthralgia, zinc deficiency, and fluctuating transaminase levels.

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