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Last reviewed on RxList: 2/13/2017
Desferal Side Effects Center

Last reviewed on RxList 01/18/2017

Desferal (deferoxamine mesylate) is an iron-chelating agent used to treat iron overload caused by blood transfusions in adults and children at least 3 years old. Desferal is available in generic form. Common side effects of Desferal include:

  • injection site reactions (pain, swelling, burning, redness, irritation, or a hard lump),
  • blurred vision,
  • dizziness,
  • ringing in your ears,
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling),
  • itching or skin rash,
  • numbness or burning pain anywhere in the body,
  • diarrhea,
  • nausea,
  • upset stomach, or
  • reddish colored urine.

Tell your doctor if you have serious side effects of Desferal including:

The preferred administration of Desferal is intramuscularly (IM) but it may also be administered intravenously (IV). The initial dose of Desferal is 1000 mg. This may be followed by 500 mg every 4 hours for two doses. Depending upon the clinical response, subsequent doses of 500 mg may be administered every 4-12 hours. The total amount administered should not exceed 6000 mg in 24 hours. Desferal may interact with prochlorperazine (Compazine) or a vitamin C supplement. Other drugs may affect Desferal. Tell your doctor all the prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you use. During pregnancy, Desferal should be used only when prescribed. It is unknown whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Desferal (deferoxamine mesylate) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

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.

Desferal Consumer Information

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 entire detailed patient monograph for Desferal (Deferoxamine)

Desferal Professional Information


The following adverse reactions have been observed, but there are not enough data to support an estimate of their frequency.

At the Injection Site: Localized irritation, pain, burning, swelling, induration, infiltration, pruritus, erythema, wheal formation, eschar, crust, vesicles, local edema. Injection site reactions may be associated with systemic allergic reactions (see Body as a Whole, below).

Hypersensitivity Reactions and Systemic Allergic Reactions: Generalized rash, urticaria, anaphylactic reaction with or without shock, angioedema.

Body as a Whole: Local injection site reactions may be accompanied by systemic reactions like arthralgia, fever, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or asthma.

Infections with Yersinia and Mucormycosis have been reported in association with Desferal use (see PRECAUTIONS).

Cardiovascular: Tachycardia, hypotension, shock.

Digestive: Abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting.

Hematologic: Blood dyscrasia (thrombocytopenia, leucopenia).

Hepatic: Increased transaminases, hepatic dysfunction.

Musculoskeletal: Muscle spasms. Growth retardation and bone changes (e.g., metaphyseal dysplasia) are common in chelated patients given doses above 60 mg/kg, especially those who begin iron chelation in the first three years of life. If doses are kept to 40 mg/kg or below, the risk may be reduced (see WARNINGS, PRECAUTIONS/Pediatric Use).

Nervous System: Neurological disturbances including dizziness, peripheral sensory, motor, or mixed neuropathy, paresthesias, seizures; exacerbation or precipitation of aluminum-related dialysis encephalopathy (see PATIENT INFORMATION).

Special Senses: High-frequency sensorineural hearing loss and/or tinnitus are uncommon if dosage guidelines are not exceeded and if dose is reduced when ferritin levels decline. Visual disturbances are rare if dosage guidelines are not exceeded. These may include decreased acuity, blurred vision, loss of vision, dyschromatopsia, night blindness, visual field defects, scotoma, retinopathy (pigmentary degeneration), optic neuritis, and cataracts (see WARNINGS).

Respiratory: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (with dyspnea, cyanosis, and/or interstitial infiltrates) (see WARNINGS).

Skin: Very rare generalized rash.

Urogenital: Dysuria, acute renal failure, increased serum creatinine and renal tubular disorders (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS).

Postmarketing Reports

There are postmarketing reports of deferoxamine-associated renal dysfunction, including renal failure. Monitor patients for changes in renal function (e.g., increased serum creatinine).

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Desferal (Deferoxamine)

Related Resources for Desferal

© Desferal Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Desferal Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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