Deferoxamine (Desferrioxamine): New Toxicities for an Old Drug

Yedidia Bentur, Michael McGuigan, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Iron is an esssential element for body homoeostasis, but there is no effective mechanism for elimination of an excess of this mineral. Deferoxamine (desferrioxamine) is currently the treatment of choice for iron overload states from both acute iron intoxication and transfusion-dependent anaemias. The pharmacokinetics of deferoxamine are confounded both by its ability to chelate endogenous and exogenous iron and by the laboratory techniques used for its determination. Its iron-complex (ferrioxamine) has different pharmacokinetic properties. Because of its effectiveness, the use of deferoxamine is becoming more common, involving long term and high dose regimens. As a result of this, more and more toxicities that were not known in the past have been described and characterised. The most serious of these include hypotension, renal insufficiency, neurotoxicity, growth retardation and opportunistic infections; some of these side effects may be attributed to or aggravated by ferrioxamine. The pharmacological and toxicological literature on deferoxamine, and possible mechanisms for its toxicity, are reviewed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes


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