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Generic name: deferoxamine [ de-fer-OX-a-meen ]
Brand name: Desferal
Dosage form: injectable powder for injection (2 g; 500 mg)
Drug classes: Antidotes, Chelating agents

Medically reviewed by on Dec 1, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is deferoxamine?

Deferoxamine binds to iron and removes it from the bloodstream.

Deferoxamine is used to treat acute (immediate) iron overdose.

Deferoxamine is also used to treat chronic (long-term) iron overload caused by repeated blood transfusions.

Deferoxamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Deferoxamine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Deferoxamine may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Some side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Long-term use of deferoxamine can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using deferoxamine.

Common side effects of deferoxamine may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


You should not use this medicine if you have severe kidney disease, or if you are unable to urinate.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use deferoxamine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

If you need to have any type of x-ray or CT scan using a dye that is injected into a vein, you may need to temporarily stop using deferoxamine. Be sure the doctor knows ahead of time that you are using deferoxamine.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Deferoxamine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 3 years old.

How should I use deferoxamine?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Deferoxamine is sometimes injected into a muscle. Deferoxamine may also be given over 8 to 24 hours using an infusion pump attached to a catheter placed under your skin or into a vein. A healthcare provider may teach you how to properly use the medication by yourself.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you don't understand all instructions.

Deferoxamine must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. When using injections by yourself, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine.

Prepare an injection only when you are ready to give it. It is best to use deferoxamine within 3 hours after mixing it. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Throw away the medicine if it has been longer than 24 hours since it was mixed with the liquid.

Your doctor may tell you to take a vitamin C supplement. Follow all instructions about how much vitamin C to take and when to start taking it. Using too much vitamin C while you are using deferoxamine can cause heart problems.

Do not take vitamin C supplements without your doctor's advice if you have heart failure.

You will need frequent medical tests. You may also need eye exams. If a child is using deferoxamine, a doctor should check the child's growth every 3 months.

Each dose of deferoxamine is for one use only. Throw away any mixed medicine that is leftover after giving the injection.

Store deferoxamine at room temperature. You may store mixed medicine at room temperature for up to 24 hours, but do not refrigerate it.

Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof "sharps" container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include slow or fast heart rate, nausea, stomach discomfort, headache, pale skin, confusion, problems with vision or speech, feeling drowsy or agitated, urinating less than usual, or fainting.

What should I avoid while using deferoxamine?

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how deferoxamine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

What other drugs will affect deferoxamine?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect deferoxamine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.