Deferoxamine (Injection Route)

1 Deferoxamine (Injection Route): A Summary

Brand Name:


Deferoxamine injection combines with iron in the blood to eliminate excess iron resulting from blood transfusion in anemia or thalassemia patients. This drug is also used to treat acute iron poisoning, especially in small children. 

Deferoxamine combines with iron in the blood. The kidneys are responsible for eliminating this combination. Various organs and tissues can be damaged when there is excess iron in the blood. This drug should be administered by a trained healthcare professional.

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2 What to Know Before Using

Before taking this drug, the risks and benefits for your body should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. 

Carefully read the label of non-prescription drugs for any possible allergic reaction or contraindications. Studies in children younger than 3 years of age regarding the relationship of age to the effects of deferoxamine injection have not been performed while safety and efficacy have not been established. 

Studies in the elderly have not reported any geriatric-specific problems that would limit the utility of deferoxamine injection. Adjustments in the dose of the elderly may be required since they are more likely to have vision or hearing problems, and age-related kidney or heart problems. 

Adverse effects have been reported in animal studies but studies in pregnant women or animals are still inadequate. Infant risk is still undetermined when using this drug during breastfeeding. Discuss with your healthcare professional about the potential risks and benefits before taking this drug while breastfeeding. 

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects. 

Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any drug such as Ascorbic Acid. Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with this drug is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. 

Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco. Inform your healthcare provider for any other medical problems such as Aluminum overload, Dialysis treatment, Encephalopathy, Anuria, Kidney disease, Hyperparathyroidism, Kidney problems, Seizures, or Infection.

3 Proper Usage

A trained health professional will be the only one to give you this drug in a hospital or clinic. You will be educated for administering the drug at home. This drug is injected under your skin, into a muscle, or into a vein. 

A new needle, unopened vial, or syringe must be used each dose. Each vial should only be used once. Dispose any vial that has changed color or has particles in it. Vitamin C supplements should not be taken while on this drug. 

The dose of this drug will be variable for different patients. The directions on the label or the prescription by your healthcare professional should be followed. The dosage of this drug you take depends on the medical problem for which you are using this drug. 

Adults, teenagers, and children 3 years of age and older with acute iron toxicity are initially injected 1000 milligrams per day into a muscle or vein. Your healthcare professional may increase your dose by 500 mg every 4 hours for two doses. 

The total dose must not exceed 6000 mg in 24 hours. Use and dose in children younger than 3 years of age must be determined by your healthcare professional. The dose in adults, teenagers, and children 3 years of age and older with chronic iron toxicity is based on body weight and must be determined by your healthcare professional. 

The dose is usually 1000 to 2000 milligrams per day, injected under the skin, over a period of 8 to 24 hours. Use and dose in children younger than 3 years of age must be determined by your healthcare professional. A missed dose should be taken as soon as possible. 

However, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule if it is almost time for your next dose. Store the drug in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. 

Keep from freezing. Keep out of the reach of children. Dispose any outdated or expired drugs and ask your healthcare professional for the proper disposal of the drugs.

4 Precautions to Take

Regular visits should be made to your healthcare provider to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug. Unwanted effects can be screened using blood and urine tests. Increased doses or prolonged use of this drug can cause hearing and vision problems within a few weeks after usage. 

Check with your healthcare professional immediately, if you notice any problems with your hearing or vision, such as blurred vision, difficulty with night vision, or difficulty with seeing colors. Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you have symptoms of a serious kidney problem such as agitation, confusion, decreased urine output, lethargy, muscle twitching, rapid weight gain, seizures, or swelling of the face, ankles, or hands. 

It is important to monitor your child’s height and weight every 3 months since this drug may cause slow growth. Consult with your healthcare professional immediately if you develop symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome such as fever, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, trouble with breathing, or wheezing. 

Inform the healthcare professional in charge that you are using this drug before you having any medical tests since the results of some tests may be affected by this drug. This drug can cause dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, or trouble in hearing or seeing clearly. 

Be careful in driving, using machines, or doing other jobs that requires alertness or good vision. This drug may normally cause your urine to turn red in color. Check with your healthcare professional before you take any other prescription or nonprescription drugs, and herbal or vitamin supplements.

5 Potential Side Effects

Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur. Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as: 

  • bluish fingernails, lips, or skin
  • blurred vision or other problems with vision
  • convulsions
  • difficulty with breathing or fast breathing
  • fast heartbeat
  • hearing problems
  • redness or flushing of the skin
  • diarrhea
  • difficult urination
  • fever
  • leg cramps
  • nausea
  • stomach and muscle cramps
  • stomach discomfort
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • vomiting
  • agitation
  • coma
  • confusion
  • cough
  • decreased urine output
  • depression
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • hives
  • hostility
  • irritability
  • itching
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • lethargy
  • muscle twitching
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • rapid weight gain
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash
  • stupor
  • swelling of the face
  • ankles, or hands
  • tightness in the chest
  • unusual tiredness or weakness, or wheezing

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the drug, the side effects will slowly disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. 

If any of the following side effects persists, or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088.