May 29, 2017
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Desferal Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Desferal

Generic Name: deferoxamine (Pronunciation: de fer OX a meen)

What is deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Deferoxamine binds to iron and removes it from the blood stream.

Deferoxamine is used to treat iron overload caused by blood transfusions in adults and children at least 3 years old.

Deferoxamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of deferoxamine (Desferal)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; joint or muscle pain; fever; headache; nausea or vomiting; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using deferoxamine and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • cough, wheezing, gasping, or other breathing problems;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • drowsiness, confusion, mood changes, increased thirst, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting;
  • swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath;
  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • hearing problems;
  • blurred vision, eye pain, or seeing halos around lights;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • fast heartbeats;
  • blue lips, skin, or fingernails;
  • severe, watery, bloody diarrhea with cramping;
  • stuffy nose, fever, redness or swelling around your nose and eyes, scabbing inside your nose;
  • stomach or back pain, coughing up blood;
  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness; or
  • leg cramps, bone problems, or growth changes (in a child using this medication).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • dizziness, ringing in your ears;
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
  • mild itching or skin rash;
  • numbness or burning pain anywhere in the body;
  • mild diarrhea, nausea, or upset stomach;
  • reddish colored urine; or
  • pain, burning, swelling, redness, irritation, or a hard lump where the medicine was injected.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the Desferal (deferoxamine) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects

What is the most important information I should know about deferoxamine (Desferal)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to deferoxamine, if you have severe kidney disease, or if you are unable to urinate.

Before using deferoxamine, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, vision or hearing problems, asthma or other breathing disorder, low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia), or a parathyroid disorder.

Your doctor may tell you to take a vitamin C supplement after you have been using deferoxamine for 1 month. Follow your doctor's instructions about how much vitamin C to take and when to start taking it. Using too much vitamin C while you are using deferoxamine can cause heart problems. Do not take vitamin C supplements without your doctor's advice if you have heart failure.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your kidney and heart function will need to be tested often. You may also need eye exams. Do not miss any follow up visits to your doctor for blood tests or eye exams.

Long-term use of deferoxamine can slow a child's growth. Tell your doctor if the child using this medication is not growing or gaining weight properly. A doctor should check the child's growth every 3 months.

This medication may cause blurred vision and may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly.

If you need to have any type of x-ray or CT scan using a dye that is injected into a vein, you may need to temporarily stop using deferoxamine. Be sure the doctor knows ahead of time that you are using this medication.

Side Effects Centers

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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