Which medications in the drug class Iron Chelators are used in the treatment of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)?

Updated: Oct 25, 2022
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Iron Chelators

Iron overload is a consequence of the numerous transfusions required and may lead to complications such as heart or liver failure. Iron chelators help maintain hemoglobin levels within the desired range.

Deferoxamine mesylate (Desferal)

Deferoxamine helps prevent damage to the liver and bone marrow from iron deposition by promoting renal and hepatic excretion in urine and bile in feces. It readily chelates iron from ferritin and hemosiderin but not from transferrin. It does not affect iron in the cytochromes or hemoglobin. This agent is most effective when administered by continuous infusion. It gives urine a red discoloration.

Deferasirox (Exjade, Jadenu)

Deferasirox is an orally administered iron chelation agent that has been shown to reduce the liver iron concentration in adults and children who receive repeated RBC transfusions. It binds iron with high affinity in a 2:1 ratio.

Deferiprone (Ferriprox)

Deferiprone (1,2 dimethyl-3-hydroxypyridine-4-one) is a member of a family of hydroxypyridine-4-one (HPO) chelators that requires 3 molecules to fully bind iron (III), each molecule providing 2 coordination sites (bidentate chelation). It is indicated for adults and children aged 3 years and older with iron overload caused by transfusions for sickle cell disease, thalassemia syndromes, or other anemias. It is available as tablets and oral solution. 

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