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Desferal Side Effects

Generic name: deferoxamine

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 17, 2023.

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

Applies to deferoxamine: injection powder for solution.

Serious side effects of Desferal

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

Other side effects of Desferal

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. Desferal (deferoxamine). Novartis Pharmaceuticals. 2001.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. UK Summary of Product Characteristics.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. Australian Product Information.

4. Product Information. Deferoxamine Mesylate (deferoxamine). Hospira Inc. 2015.

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.