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Generic name: deferoxamine
Drug classes: Antidotes, Chelating agents

Medically reviewed by  A Ras MD.

What is Desferal?

Desferal is used to get rid of iron when too much is in the body. Desferal may be given to you for other reasons.


Desferal, deferoxamine mesylate USP, is an iron-chelating agent, available in vials for intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intravenous administration. Desferal is supplied as vials containing 500 mg of deferoxamine mesylate USP in sterile, lyophilized form. Deferoxamine mesylate is N-[5-[3-[(5-aminopentyl)hydroxycarbamoyl]propionamido]pentyl]-3-[[5-(N-hydroxyacetamido)pentyl]carbamoyl]propionohydroxamic acid monomethanesul-fonate (salt), and its structural formula is

Chemical Structure

Deferoxamine mesylate USP is a white to off-white powder. It is freely soluble in water and slightly soluble in methanol. Its molecular weight is 656.79 g/mol.

Before taking Desferal, tell your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to Desferal; any part of this medicine; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you are not able to pass urine.
  • If you have kidney disease.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this medicine.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take Desferal with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Desferal?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take Desferal. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how Desferal affects you.
  • Have an eye exam as you have been told by your doctor.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Have a hearing test before starting Desferal and while you take Desferal.
  • This medicine may affect certain lab tests. Tell all of your health care providers and lab workers that you take Desferal.
  • If you take vitamin C, talk with your doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor before taking multivitamins, natural products, and diet aids. These may have vitamin C in them.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly fungal infections have rarely happened in patients taking Desferal. Tell your doctor right away if you have fever, runny nose, eye changes, cough, or shortness of breath.
  • This medicine may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you are 65 or older, use Desferal with care. You could have more side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using Desferal while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is Desferal best taken?

Use Desferal as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as a shot into a muscle or as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
  • It is given as an infusion under the skin over a period of time.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

What are the side effects of Desferal that I need to call my doctor about immediately?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
  • Signs of lung or breathing problems like shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, cough, or fever.
  • A fast heartbeat.
  • Dizziness or passing out.
  • Flushing.
  • Blue or gray skin color.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Seizures.
  • Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
  • Very bad irritation where the shot was given.
  • Change in eyesight like loss of eyesight and change in hearing like loss of hearing have rarely happened with Desferal. Most of the time, these changes have gone back to normal when Desferal was stopped. Call your doctor right away if you have any change in eyesight or hearing.

What are some other side effects of Desferal?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Change in color of urine to red.
  • Headache.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Muscle spasm.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Belly pain.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If overdose is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Desferal?

  • If you need to store Desferal at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.




  • NDC 0078-0467-91
  • Desferal®
  • deferoxamine mesylate for injection USP
  • 500 mg per vial
  • Rx only
  • Each vial contains deferoxamine mesylate USP, 500 mg in lyophilized form.
  • For subcutaneous intramuscular or intravenous administration.
  • 4 vials

 PRINCIPAL DISPLAY PANEL NDC 0078-0467-91 NOVARTIS Desferal® deferoxamine mesylate for injection USP 500 mg per vial Rx only Each vial contains deferoxamine mesylate USP, 500 mg in lyophilized form. For subcutaneous intramuscular or intravenous administration. 4 vials



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