Deferasirox (DFX) has recently been used to treat thalassemia with iron overload; however, its long-term effectiveness and safety await multi-year studies. In this study, a systematic meta-analysis was performed to assess the effectiveness and safety of DFX in the treatment of thalassemia with iron overload. We performed a systematic electronic literature search for randomized controlled studies of DFX in the Embase, Medline, Cochrane, and Chinese Biomedical Literature (CBM) databases from January 1990 to May 2018. Particular attention was paid to mortality, serum ferritin (SF), liver iron concentration (LIC), myocardial iron concentration, and adverse events (AEs). Six studies comparing DFX with deferoxamine (DFO) and placebo were enrolled. DFX was not better than DFO in lowering SF and LIC, with an exception that high DFX dose (>30 mg/kg/day) was superior to DFO in LIC. Otherwise, AEs such as gastrointestinal problems appeared to be more common with DFX. DFX does not seem to be superior to DFO at low dose. Similar efficacy seems to be achievable depending on dose. However, the convenient oral administration of DFX has a higher compliance rate.

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