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How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Deferiprone belongs to the class of medications called iron-chelating agentsIt is used to reduce the amount of iron in the blood for people with thalassemia, when other treatments have not worked. It is also used for people with sickle cell disease or other anemias who have too much iron in their bodies due to transfusions.

Treatment of blood disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease involves regular blood transfusions to provide the body with the red blood cells necessary for normal functioning. Regular transfusions cause too much iron to build up in the body, which can be harmful. Deferiprone binds to the extra iron, removing it from the body.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

How should I use this medication?

The usual dose of deferiprone is based on body weight. Your doctor will calculate the dose as 25 to 33 mg per kilogram of body weight. This dose is then taken by mouth, three times a day.

Deferiprone can be taken with or without food. If you experience upset stomach with this medication, take it with food. People who experience severe nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain may find it helpful to reduce the dose temporarily. Talk to your doctor to see if this may be an option for you if you have side effects.

If you are taking other medications or supplements that contain iron, aluminum, or zinc, leave at least 4 hours between taking deferiprone and the other medication.

If you are using deferiprone liquid, use an oral syringe to measure each dose of the liquid, as it gives a more accurate measurement than household teaspoons.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children. If you are using the oral solution, safely discard any remaining medication 35 days after opening the bottle.

What form(s) does this medication come in?


500 mg
Each white-to-off-white, capsule-shaped tablet, scored and engraved with "APO" score "500" on one side and plain on the other, contains 500 mg of deferiprone. Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate and microcrystalline cellulose (M102); coating: hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (2910), polyethylene glycol (3350), and titanium dioxide.

1000 mg
Each white-to-off-white, capsule-shaped tablet, scored and engraved with "APO" score "1000" on one side and plain on the other, contains 1000 mg of deferiprone. Nonmedicinal ingredients: crospovidone, magnesium stearate, and methyl cellulose (A15LV); coating: hydroxypropyl cellulose (LF), hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (2910 E5), polyethylene glycol (8000), and titanium dioxide.

Oral solution

100 mg/mL
Each mL of clear, reddish-orange-coloured liquid contains 100 mg of deferiprone. Nonmedicinal ingredients: artificial cherry flavor, glycerol, Sunset Yellow FCF, hydrochloric acid, hydroxyethyl cellulose (Type H Pharm), peppermint oil, purified water, and sucralose.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to deferiprone or any ingredients of the medication
  • are pregnant
  • are breastfeeding
  • have a very low number of white blood cells
What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • abdominal pain
  • appetite changes
  • headache
  • nausea
  • reddish-brown urine colour
  • sore throat
  • vomiting
  • weight gain

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • coordination difficulties
  • double vision
  • joint, arm, leg, or back pain
  • muscle spasms
  • tremors
  • symptoms of a sickle cell anemia crisis (e.g., pain in chest, abdomen, bones, spine, arms, or legs)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of infection (symptoms may include fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Infection: Deferiprone can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.

Liver function: Deferiprone may have an effect on your liver function, causing abnormal liver test results. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication. Usually, this means that reduced liver function can be identified before it becomes too severe. This is particularly important if you have liver problems, such as hepatitis C.

Neurological problems: Deferiprone may cause symptoms related to the nervous system. Vision changes, abnormal movements, and loss of muscle tone have been reported in children taking this medication. If you observe any unusual symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Pregnancy: This medication may cause harm to the developing baby if it is taken by the mother during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately. Women taking deferiprone who could become pregnant should use effective birth control.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if deferiprone passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Breast-feeding is not recommended if you are taking this medication.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between deferiprone and any of the following:

  • aldesleukin
  • antacids (e.g., aluminum hydroxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide)
  • calcium supplements (e.g., calcium carbonate, calcium citrate)
  • anticancer medications (e.g., azacitidine, busulfan, capecitabine, carboplatin, cytarabine, doxorubicin, etoposide, ifosfamide, vincristine)
  • carbamazepine
  • certain biologics (e.g., alemtuzumab, bevacizumab, blinatumomab, obinutuzumab, rituximab)
  • dexrazoxane
  • diclofenac
  • eltrombopag
  • everolimus
  • hydroxyurea
  • interferon
  • iron supplements (e.g., ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulfate)
  • linezolid
  • magnesium supplements
  • methimazole
  • methotrexate
  • milk thistle
  • multivitamins with minerals
  • propylthiouracil
  • certain protein kinase inhibitors (e.g., bosutinib, dasatinib, idelalisib, imatinib, nilotinib, tofacitinib)
  • romidepsin
  • selenium
  • sirolimus
  • sucralfate
  • tacrolimus
  • zidovudine
  • zinc supplements

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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