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Eur J Haematol. 2001 Jul;67(1):30-4.

Comparison between deferoxamine and deferiprone (L1) in iron-loaded thalassemia patients.

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The Chronic Care Centre, The American University of Beirut Medical Centre, Beirut, Lebanon.



Iron-chelating therapy with deferoxamine in patients with thalassemia major has dramatically improved the prognosis of this disease. However, the limitations of this treatment have stimulated the design of alternative orally active iron chelators.


To compare the effectiveness and safety of, and compliance with, oral deferiprone (L1), and deferoxamine, in thalassemia major patients.


All patients were followed up in one center in Lebanon. Sixteen patients were on L1 (75 mg/kg/d), and 40 patients on subcutaneous deferoxamine (20-50 mg/kg/d). Serum ferritin level, urinary iron excretion (UIE) and side effects were monitored over a two year period.


Patients on L1 had an initial serum ferritin concentration of 3663+/-566 microg/l (mean+/-SEM), that dropped to 2599+/-314 at 6 months (p<0.02; paired t-test), and stabilised at that level over the 24 months follow up. Patients on deferoxamine had an initial mean serum ferritin concentration of 3480+/-417 (NS compared to the L1 group), which dropped gradually to 3143+/-417 (p<0.05) and 2819+/-292 (p<0.02) at 6 and 24 months, respectively. The most common adverse reactions associated with L1 were arthralgia and nausea, but they did not necessitate stopping the drug.


L1 had comparable efficacy as deferoxamine with minimal side effects and better compliance. Provided long term side effects are not encountered, L1 seems to be a valuable alternative iron chelator for patients unable or unwilling to use deferoxamine effectively.

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