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Chelating Agent

Brand names:


Other names:

Deferoxamine Mesylate; Desferrioxamine

Often used for:

Iron overload, acute iron poisoning

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What is deferoxamine?

Deferoxamine is a medicine that removes excess iron in the body caused by blood transfusions or the body absorbing too much iron. The body has no way to get rid of the extra iron. This extra iron can build up in organs and cause damage over time.

Deferoxamine is a type of medicine called a chelating agent. It binds to iron in the body. Then, the body removes the bound iron through urine (pee).

Deferoxamine is given as an infusion into a vein, muscle, or skin. It is often given using a portable infusion pump over a period of 8–12 hours. But it can take up to 24 hours.

Your child will have regular blood tests to monitor kidney and liver function.


May be given into a vein by IV


May be given as an infusion under the skin

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Possible side effects

  • Red or orange color of urine
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Pain or irritation at the site where the medicine is given

Not all patients who take deferoxamine will have these side effects and there might be others not listed. Some side effects can be severe. Please report any symptoms or side effects to your doctor or pharmacist. 

Find more information on side effects.

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Tips for patients and families

Be sure to discuss all questions and instructions with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Some patients may have a reaction to this medicine. Let your care team know about any symptoms during the infusion.
  • Deferoxamine can cause damage to the eyes and ears in some patients. Have your child’s vision and hearing checked before starting deferoxamine and every year while taking the medicine. Let your doctor know if your child has any changes in eyesight or hearing.
  • Talk with your care team before giving your child vitamin C or multivitamins or supplements that have vitamin C.
  • This medicine may make your child dizzy or drowsy. Do not let your child do anything that could be dangerous until you see how this medicine affects them.
  • It is important that patients tell the care team if they are sexually active, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during treatment. 
  • It is important that your child gets each dose of this medicine as scheduled. Do not miss appointments.