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Hemoglobin. 2011;35(3):206-16. doi: 10.3109/03630269.2011.570674.

Sequential alternating deferiprone and deferoxamine treatment compared to deferiprone monotherapy: main findings and clinical follow-up of a large multicenter randomized clinical trial in -thalassemia major patients.

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Unità Operativa Complessa Ematologia II con Talassemia, Azienda Ospedaliera Ospedali Riuniti Villa Sofia, Vincenzo Cervello, Palermo, Italia.


In β-thalassemia major (β-TM) patients, iron chelation therapy is mandatory to reduce iron overload secondary to transfusions. Recommended first line treatment is deferoxamine (DFO) from the age of 2 and second line treatment after the age of 6 is deferiprone (L1). A multicenter randomized open-label trial was designed to assess the effectiveness of long-term alternating sequential L1-DFO vs. L1 alone iron chelation therapy in β-TM patients. Deferiprone 75 mg/kg 4 days/week and DFO 50 mg/kg/day for 3 days/week was compared with L1 alone 75 mg/kg 7 days/week during a 5-year follow-up. A total of 213 thalassemia patients were randomized and underwent intention-to-treat analysis. Statistically, a decrease of serum ferritin level was significantly higher in alternating sequential L1-DFO patients compared with L1 alone patients (p = 0.005). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis for the two chelation treatments did not show statistically significant differences (log-rank test, p = 0.3145). Adverse events and costs were comparable between the groups. Alternating sequential L1-DFO treatment decreased serum ferritin concentration during a 5-year treatment by comparison to L1 alone, without significant differences of survival, adverse events or costs. These findings were confirmed in a further 21-month follow-up. These data suggest that alternating sequential L1-DFO treatment may be useful for some β-TM patients who may not be able to receive other forms of chelation treatment.

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