Skip to Content

Desferal Side Effects

Generic Name: deferoxamine

Note: This document contains side effect information about deferoxamine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Desferal.

For the Consumer

Applies to deferoxamine: injection powder for solution

Along with its needed effects, deferoxamine (the active ingredient contained in Desferal) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking deferoxamine:

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 side effects of deferoxamine may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

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


The most common adverse events were injection site reactions (pain, swelling, infiltration, erythema, pruritus, eschar/crust), and arthralgia/myalgia.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Pain, swelling, infiltration, erythema, pruritus, eschar/crust at the injection site
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Vesicles, local edema, local burning[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Arthralgia/myalgia
Common (1% to 10%): Growth retardation, bone disorder (e.g. metaphyseal dysplasia)
Frequency not reported: Muscle spasms, leg cramps, transient bone pain, hyperparathyroid bone disease[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Nausea
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Vomiting, abdominal pain
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Diarrhea[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Urticaria
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Rash generalized, dermatitis medicamentosa[Ref]

Nervous system

Common (1% to 10%): Headache
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Neurological disturbances, dizziness, precipitation/exacerbation of aluminum-related dialysis encephalopathy (e.g. grand mal seizures, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, dialysis dementia), neuropathy peripheral, paresthesia
Frequency not reported: Convulsion[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Pyrexia
Rare (less than 0.1%): Deafness neurosensory, tinnitus
Frequency not reported: Transient depression of serum calcium, reversible aphasia with visual loss and bradycardia[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Asthma
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Acute respiratory distress, lung infiltration[Ref]


Very rare (less than 0.01%): Blood disorders (e.g. thrombocytopenia, leucopenia, eosinophilia)
Frequency not reported: Inhibition of DNA synthesis in T and B lymphocytes[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Hypotension, tachycardia, shock
Frequency not reported: Cardiac arrhythmias[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Reddish-brown discoloration of the urine, dysuria[Ref]


Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Mucormycosis
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Gastroenteritis Yersinia, unusual infections (e.g. Pneumocystis carinii, Yersinia, or Rhizopus)[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Loss of vision, scotoma, retinal degeneration, optic neuritis, cataracts, decreased visual acuity, blurred vision, night blindness, visual field defects, chromatopsia, corneal opacities[Ref]


Very rare (less than 0.01%): Anaphylactic shock, anaphylactoid reaction, angioneurotic edema, allergic skin reactions[Ref]


Very rare (less than 0.01%): Renal impairment (including a rise in serum creatinine)
Frequency not reported: Acute renal failure, renal tubular disorder, blood creatinine increased, aggravation of pyelonephritis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Impaired hepatic function, increased transaminases[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Hypocalcemia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Aggravation of hyperparathyroidism[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Deferoxamine Mesylate (deferoxamine)." Hospira Inc, Lake Forest, IL.

2. "Product Information. Desferal (deferoxamine)." Novartis Pharmaceuticals, East Hanover, NJ.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

4. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

Some side effects of Desferal may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.