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Deferoxamine Side Effects

Not all side effects for deferoxamine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to deferoxamine: injection powder for solution

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by deferoxamine. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking deferoxamine, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

More common
  • Bluish fingernails, lips, or skin
  • blurred vision or other problems with vision
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • difficulty with breathing or fast breathing
  • fast heartbeat
  • hearing problems
  • redness or flushing of the skin
Less common
  • Diarrhea
  • difficult urination
  • fever
  • leg cramps
  • nausea
  • stomach and muscle cramps
  • stomach discomfort
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • vomiting
Incidence not known
  • 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
  • wheezing

Some of the side effects that can occur with deferoxamine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Incidence not known
  • Bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of the skin, feeling of pressure, hives, infection, inflammation, itching, lumps, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, or warmth at the injection site

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to deferoxamine: injectable powder for injection


Local side effects include localized irritation, pain, burning, swelling, induration, infiltration, pruritus, erythema, wheal formation, eschar, crust, vesicles, and local edema.[Ref]

Injection site reactions are sometimes associated with systemic reactions like arthralgia, fever, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and/or asthma.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects include tachycardia, hypotension, and shock.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects include leg cramps, arthralgia, and myalgia. Growth retardation and bone changes are common in chelated patients at doses above 60 mg/kg, especially in children who begin iron chelation before four years of age. However, the risk is reduced considerably if the dose is 40 mg/kg or below. A case of pelvic osteomyelitis has also been reported.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects include dizziness, peripheral sensory, motor, or mixed neuropathy, paresthesias, exacerbation or precipitation of aluminum related dialysis encephalopathy.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects include generalized rash, urticaria, and angioedema.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects including thrombocytopenia and leukopenia have been reported.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects include acute respiratory distress syndrome with dyspnea, cyanosis, and/or interstitial infiltrates.[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects include dysuria and impaired renal function.[Ref]


General side effects include fever, headache, and abdominal pain.[Ref]


Otic side effects include clinical deafness, high frequency sensorineural hearing loss, and tinnitus.

Postmarketing reports suggest that there may be an increased risk of deafness and hearing loss in the geriatric population.[Ref]


Ocular side effects include decreased acuity, blurred vision, loss of vision, dyschromatopsia, night blindness, visual field defects, scotoma, retinopathy (pigmentary degeneration), optic neuritis, and cataracts.

Postmarketing reports suggest a possible trend for an increased risk of eye disorders in the geriatric population, specifically the occurrence of color blindness, maculopathy, and scotoma.[Ref]

Although the number of reports was very small, certain elderly patients may be predisposed to eye disorders when taking deferoxamine.[Ref]


Immunologic side effects rarely include enhanced susceptibility to Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Very rare cases of mucormycosis have also been reported.[Ref]


Renal side effects in postmarketing experience have included increases in serum creatinine (possibly dose-related), acute renal failure and renal tubular disorders.


Hepatic side effects have included hepatic dysfunction.


1. "Product Information. Desferal (deferoxamine)." Ciba Pharmaceuticals, Summit, NJ.

2. Mclean TW, Kurth S, Gee B "Pelvic osteomyelitis in a sickle-cell patient receiving deferoxamine." Am J Hematol 53 (1996): 284-5

3. Kanno H, Yamanobe S, Rybak LP "The ototoxicity of deferoxamine mesylate." Am J Otolaryngol 16 (1995): 148-52

4. Rodriguez AS, Oterino JA, Fernandez MA "Unusual toxicity of deferoxamine." Ann Pharmacother 33 (1999): 505-6

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