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1.  Response of iron overload to deferasirox in rare transfusion-dependent anaemias: equivalent effects on serum ferritin and labile plasma iron for haemolytic or production anaemias 
European Journal of Haematology  2011;87(4):338-348.
It is widely assumed that, at matched transfusional iron-loading rates, responses to chelation therapy are similar, irrespective of the underlying condition. However, data are limited for rare transfusion-dependent anaemias, and it remains to be elucidated if response differs, depending on whether the anaemia has a primary haemolytic or production mechanism.
The efficacy and safety of deferasirox (Exjade®) in rare transfusion-dependent anaemias were evaluated over 1 yr, with change in serum ferritin as the primary efficacy endpoint. Initial deferasirox doses were 10–30 mg/kg/d, depending on transfusion requirements; 34 patients had production anaemias, and 23 had haemolytic anaemias.
Patients with production anaemias or haemolytic anaemias had comparable transfusional iron-loading rates (0.31 vs. 0.30 mL red blood cells/kg/d), mean deferasirox dosing (19.3 vs. 19.0 mg/kg/d) and baseline median serum ferritin (2926 vs. 2682 ng/mL). Baseline labile plasma iron (LPI) levels correlated significantly with the transfusional iron-loading rates and with serum ferritin levels in both cohorts. Reductions in median serum ferritin levels were initially faster in the production than the haemolytic anaemias, but at 1 yr, similar significant reductions of 940 and 617 ng/mL were attained, respectively (−26.0% overall). Mean LPI decreased significantly in patients with production (P < 0.0001) and haemolytic (P = 0.037) anaemias after the first dose and was maintained at normal mean levels (<0.4 μm) subsequently. The most common drug-related, investigator-assessed adverse events were diarrhoea (n = 16) and nausea (n = 12).
At matched transfusional iron-loading rates, the responses of rare transfusion-dependent anaemias to deferasirox are similar at 1 yr, irrespective of the underlying pathogenic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3229702  PMID: 21649735
rare anaemias; iron overload; iron chelation therapy; serum ferritin; safety
2.  Relative response of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and other transfusion-dependent anaemias to deferasirox (ICL670): a 1-yr prospective study 
European Journal of Haematology  2008;80(2):168-176.
This 1-yr prospective phase II trial evaluated the efficacy of deferasirox in regularly transfused patients aged 3–81 yrs with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS; n = 47), Diamond–Blackfan anaemia (DBA; n = 30), other rare anaemias (n = 22) or β-thalassaemia (n = 85). Dosage was determined by baseline liver iron concentration (LIC).
In patients with baseline LIC ≥7 mg Fe/g dry weight, deferasirox initiated at 20 or 30 mg/kg/d produced statistically significant decreases in LIC (P < 0.001); these decreases were greatest in MDS and least in DBA. As chelation efficiency and iron excretion did not differ significantly between disease groups, the differences in LIC changes are consistent with mean transfusional iron intake (least in MDS: 0.28 ± 0.14 mg/kg/d; greatest in DBA: 0.4 ± 0.11 mg/kg/d). Overall, LIC changes were dependent on dose (P < 0.001) and transfusional iron intake (P < 0.01), but not statistically different between disease groups. Changes in serum ferritin and LIC were correlated irrespective of disease group (r = 0.59), supporting the potential use of serum ferritin for monitoring deferasirox therapy. Deferasirox had a safety profile compatible with long-term use. There were no disease-specific safety/tolerability effects: the most common adverse events were gastrointestinal disturbances, skin rash and non-progressive serum creatinine increases.
Deferasirox is effective for reducing iron burden with a defined, clinically manageable safety profile in patients with various transfusion-dependent anaemias. There were no disease-specific adverse events. Once differences in transfusional iron intake are accounted for, dose-dependent changes in LIC or serum ferritin are similar in MDS and other disease groups.
PMCID: PMC2268958  PMID: 18028431
iron chelation; deferasirox; Exjade, ICL670; myelodysplastic syndromes; thalassaemia; Diamond–Blackfan anaemia
3.  A randomised comparison of deferasirox versus deferoxamine for the treatment of transfusional iron overload in sickle cell disease 
British Journal of Haematology  2007;136(3):501-508.
Deferasirox is a once-daily, oral iron chelator developed for treating transfusional iron overload. Preclinical studies indicated that the kidney was a potential target organ of toxicity. As patients with sickle cell disease often have abnormal baseline renal function, the primary objective of this randomised, open-label, phase II trial was to evaluate the safety and tolerability of deferasirox in comparison with deferoxamine in this population. Assessment of efficacy, as measured by change in liver iron concentration (LIC) using biosusceptometry, was a secondary objective. A total of 195 adult and paediatric patients received deferasirox (n = 132) or deferoxamine (n = 63). Adverse events most commonly associated with deferasirox were mild, including transient nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and skin rash. Abnormal laboratory studies with deferasirox were occasionally associated with mild non-progressive increases in serum creatinine and reversible elevations in liver function tests. Discontinuation rates from deferasirox (11·4%) and deferoxamine (11·1%) were similar. Over 1 year, similar dose-dependent LIC reductions were observed with deferasirox and deferoxamine. Once-daily oral deferasirox has acceptable tolerability and appears to have similar efficacy to deferoxamine in reducing iron burden in transfused patients with sickle cell disease.
PMCID: PMC1974786  PMID: 17233848
deferasirox; ICL670; Exjade; sickle cell disease; iron overload
4.  Efficacy and safety of deferasirox at low and high iron burdens: results from the EPIC magnetic resonance imaging substudy 
Annals of Hematology  2012;92(2):211-219.
The effect of deferasirox dosing tailored for iron burden and iron loading based on liver iron concentration (LIC) was assessed over 1 year in less versus more heavily iron-overloaded patients in a substudy of the Evaluation of Patients’ Iron Chelation with Exjade®. Deferasirox starting dose was 10–30 mg/kg/day, depending on blood transfusion frequency, with recommended dose adjustments every 3 months. Therapeutic goals were LIC maintenance or reduction in patients with baseline LIC <7 or ≥7 mg Fe/g dry weight (dw), respectively. Changes in LIC (R2-magnetic resonance imaging) and serum ferritin after 1 year were assessed. Adverse events (AEs) and laboratory parameters were monitored throughout. Of 374 patients, 71 and 303 had baseline LIC <7 and ≥7 mg Fe/g dw, respectively; mean deferasirox doses were 20.7 and 27.1 mg/kg/day (overall average time to dose increase, 24 weeks). At 1 year, mean LIC and median serum ferritin levels were maintained in the low-iron cohort (−0.02 ± 2.4 mg Fe/g dw, −57 ng/mL; P = not significant) and significantly decreased in the high-iron cohort (−6.1 ± 9.1 mg Fe/g dw, −830 ng/mL; P < 0.0001). Drug-related gastrointestinal AEs, mostly mild to moderate, were more frequently reported in the <7 versus ≥7 mg Fe/g dw cohort (39.4 versus 20.8 %; P = 0.001) and were not confounded by diagnosis, dosing, ethnicity, or hepatitis B and/or C history. Reported serum creatinine increases did not increase in low- versus high-iron cohort patients. Deferasirox doses of 20 mg/kg/day maintained LIC <7 mg Fe/g dw and doses of 30 mg/kg/day were required for net iron reduction in the high-iron cohort, with clinically manageable safety profiles. The higher incidence of gastrointestinal AEs at lower iron burdens requires further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3542426  PMID: 23086508
Iron overload; Iron chelation therapy; Deferasirox; Liver iron concentration
5.  A Phase 1/2, Dose-Escalation Trial of Deferasirox for the Treatment of Iron Overload in HFE-Related Hereditary Hemochromatosis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2010;52(5):1671-1679.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is characterized by increased intestinal iron absorption that may result in iron overload. Although phlebotomy is widely practiced, it is poorly tolerated or contraindicated in patients with anemias, severe heart disease, or poor venous access, and compliance can vary. The once-daily, oral iron chelator, deferasirox (Exjade) may provide an alternative treatment option. Patients with HH carrying the HFE gene who were homozygous for the Cys282Tyr mutation, serum ferritin levels of 300-2000 ng/mL, transferrin saturation ≥45%, and no known history of cirrhosis were enrolled in this dose-escalation study to characterize the safety and efficacy of deferasirox, comprising a core and an extension phase (each 24 weeks). Forty-nine patients were enrolled and received starting deferasirox doses of 5 (n = 11), 10 (n = 15), or 15 (n = 23) mg/kg/day. Adverse events were generally dose-dependent, the most common being diarrhea, headache, and nausea (n = 18, n = 10, and n = 8 in the core and n = 1, n = 1, and n = 0 in the extension, respectively). More patients in the 15 mg/kg/day than in the 5 or 10 mg/kg/day cohorts experienced increases in alanine aminotransferase and serum creatinine levels during the 48-week treatment period; six patients had alanine aminotransferase >3× baseline and greater than the upper limit of normal range, and eight patients had serum creatinine >33% above baseline and greater than upper limit of normal on two consecutive occasions. After receiving deferasirox for 48 weeks, median serum ferritin levels decreased by 63.5%, 74.8%, and 74.1% in the 5, 10, and 15 mg/kg/day cohorts, respectively. In all cohorts, median serum ferritin decreased to <250 ng/mL. Conclusion: Deferasirox doses of 5, 10, and 15 mg/kg/day can reduce iron burden in patients with HH. Based on the safety and efficacy results, starting deferasirox at 10 mg/kg/day appears to be most appropriate for further study in this patient population. (Hepatology 2010)
PMCID: PMC3034044  PMID: 20814896
6.  Transfusion-dependent low-risk myelodysplastic patients receiving deferasirox: Long-term follow-up 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(6):1774-1778.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) are characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis that results in peripheral cytopenias. Anemia is the most common symptom of MDS and the majority of patients become transfusion-dependent with the risk of iron overload, which may lead to cardiac, hepatic and endocrine complications. Deferasirox is an orally available iron chelator administered once-daily in transfusion-dependent patients with various chronic anemias. Its efficacy has been established in controlled clinical trials. In the present study, we describe our experience with 55 consecutive MDS patients [International Prognostic Scoring System risk score of low (n=32) or intermediate-1 (n=23)] treated with deferasirox in a routine clinical setting following Consensus Guidelines on Iron Chelation Therapy. According to WHO classifications, patients had refractory anemia (n=30), refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (n=16), refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia (n=8) or refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia and ringed sideroblasts (n=1). The median monthly transfusion requirement at baseline was 3 units. Patients received a starting dosage of 10 mg/kg/day, subsequently titrated according to serum ferritin (SF) levels which were measured monthly. Safety assessment included monitoring of liver and renal parameters and recording adverse events (AE) during treatment. At the baseline, the mean ± SD SF level was 2,362±172 ng/ml and after 24 months, the mean ± SD decrease in SF was 1,679±209 ng/ml. Sixteen patients had sustained hematological improvement meeting International Working Group 2006 criteria. One patient became transfusion-independent. No severe AE were reported. In conclusion, deferasirox therapy was effective and safe in reducing transfusional iron overload and it reduces transfusion requirement in a subset of patients.
PMCID: PMC3834329  PMID: 24260074
myelodysplastic syndromes; transfusion dependence; iron overload; chelation; deferasirox; erythroid response
7.  Therapeutic Value of Combined Therapy with Deferasirox and Silymarin on Iron Overload in Children with Beta Thalassemia 
Beta thalassemia is an inherited hemoglobin disorder resulting in a severe, chronic anemia requiring life-long blood transfusion that induces iron overload. Silymarin is a flavonoid complex isolated from Silybin marianum with a strong antioxidant activity, inducing an hepatoprotective action, and probably, a protective effect on iron overload. The aim of this work was to determine the silymarin value in improving iron chelation in thalassemic patients with iron overload treated with Deferasirox.
Patients and Methods
This study was conducted on 40 children with beta thalassemia major under follow-up at Hematology Unit, Pediatric Department, Tanta University Hospital with serum ferritin level more than 1000 ng/ml and was divided into two groups. Group IA: Received oral Deferasirox (Exjade) and silymarin for 6 months. Group IB: Received oral Deferasirox (Exjade) and placebo for 6 months and 20 healthy children serving as a control group in the period between April 2011 and August 2012 and was performed after approval from research ethical committee center in Tanta University Hospital and obtaining an informed written parental consent from all participants in this study.
Serum ferritin levels were markedly decreased in group IA cases compared with group IB (P= 0.001).
From this study we concluded that, silymarin in combination with Exjade can be safely used in the treatment of iron-loaded thalassemic patients as it showed good iron chelation with no sign of toxicity.
We recommend extensive multicenter studies in a large number of patients with longer duration of follow-up and more advanced techniques of assessment of iron status in order to clarify the exact role of silymarin in reducing iron overload in children with beta thalassemia.
PMCID: PMC3867224  PMID: 24363880
8.  Long-term safety and efficacy of deferasirox (Exjade®) for up to 5 years in transfusional iron-overloaded patients with sickle cell disease 
British Journal of Haematology  2011;154(3):387-397.
To date, there is a lack of long-term safety and efficacy data for iron chelation therapy in transfusion-dependent patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). To evaluate the long-term safety and efficacy of deferasirox (a once-daily oral iron chelator), patients with SCD completing a 1-year, Phase II, randomized, deferoxamine (DFO)-controlled study entered a 4-year extension, continuing to receive deferasirox, or switching from DFO to deferasirox. Average actual deferasirox dose was 19·4 ± 6·3 mg/kg per d. Of 185 patients who received at least one deferasirox dose, 33·5% completed the 5-year study. The most common reasons for discontinuation were withdrawal of consent (23·8%), lost to follow-up (9·2%) and adverse events (AEs) (7·6%). Investigator-assessed drug-related AEs were predominantly gastrointestinal [including nausea (14·6%), diarrhoea (10·8%)], mild-to-moderate and transient in nature. Creatinine clearance remained within the normal range throughout the study. Despite conservative initial dosing, serum ferritin levels in patients with ≥4 years deferasirox exposure significantly decreased by −591 μg/l (95% confidence intervals, −1411, −280 μg/l; P=0·027; n=67). Long-term deferasirox treatment for up to 5 years had a clinically acceptable safety profile, including maintenance of normal renal function, in patients with SCD. Iron burden was substantially reduced with appropriate dosing in patients treated for at least 4 years.
PMCID: PMC3170481  PMID: 21592110
deferasirox; Exjade; oral iron chelator; sickle cell disease; iron overload
9.  Deferasirox: appraisal of safety and efficacy in long-term therapy 
Journal of Blood Medicine  2013;4:101-110.
Deferasirox is a once-daily, oral iron chelator that is widely used in the management of patients with transfusional hemosiderosis. Several Phase II trials along with their respective extension studies as well as a Phase III trial have established the efficacy and safety of this novel agent in transfusion-dependent patients with β-thalassemia, sickle-cell disease and bone marrow-failure syndromes, including myelodysplastic syndrome and aplastic anemia. Data from various clinical trials show that a deferasirox dose of 20 mg/kg/day stabilizes serum ferritin levels and liver iron concentration, while a dose of 30–40 mg/kg/day reduces these parameters and achieves negative iron balance in red cell transfusion-dependent patients with iron overload. Across various pivotal clinical trials, deferasirox was well tolerated, with the most common adverse events being gastrointestinal disturbances, skin rash, nonprogressive increases in serum creatinine, and elevations in liver enzyme levels. Longer-term extension studies have also confirmed the efficacy and safety of deferasirox. However, it is essential that patients on deferasirox therapy are monitored regularly to ensure timely management for any adverse events that may occur with long-term therapy.
PMCID: PMC3743529  PMID: 23966805
deferasirox; iron overload; thalassemia; sickle-cell disease; myelodysplastic syndrome
10.  Deferasirox in Indian children with thalassemia major: 3 years experience 
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the oral iron chelator deferasirox in treating transfusional hemosiderosis in a cohort of Indian children with thalassemia major with high iron load.
Materials and Methods:
The first 50 children (age 2-18 yrs) with thalassemia major to commence deferasirox at our center were enrolled and followed up for a period of 36 months between April 2008 and March 2011. The dose of deferasirox was determined by their baseline serum ferritin and was adjusted to a maximum of 40 mg/kg/day depending on response. Ferritin levels, SGOT, SGPT, serum creatinine and urine albumin were regularly monitored.
Of the 50 patients, 76% documented a significant decline in serum ferritin (P<0.05). Seven (14%) patients had a stable ferritin whilst 5 patients (10%) documented an increase over the study period. The mean serum ferritin at baseline, 12, 24 and 36 months was 4354, 3260, 3290 and 3042, respectively (P<0.05). The median serum ferritin at the same time points was 3555, 2810, 2079 and 2271, respectively (P<0.05). No severe toxicity was seen.
Deferasirox, when given in doses ≥30 mg/kg, was found to be an effective and safe drug in reducing transfusional hemosiderosis. Thirty five (70%) needed dose escalation upto 40 mg/kg/day. Fifteen (30%), however did not achieve a negative iron balance despite maximally permissible doses.
PMCID: PMC3715972  PMID: 23878481
Deferasirox; serum ferritin; thalassemia major
11.  Efficacy and safety of deferasirox, an oral iron chelator, in heavily iron-overloaded patients with β-thalassaemia: the ESCALATOR study 
European Journal of Haematology  2009;82(6):458-465.
Many patients with transfusional iron overload are at risk for progressive organ dysfunction and early death and poor compliance with older chelation therapies is believed to be a major contributing factor. Phase II/III studies have shown that oral deferasirox 20–30 mg/kg/d reduces iron burden, depending on transfusional iron intake.
The prospective, open-label, 1-yr ESCALATOR study in the Middle East was designed to evaluate once-daily deferasirox in patients ≥2 yr with β-thalassaemia major and iron overload who were previously chelated with deferoxamine and/or deferiprone. Most patients began treatment with deferasirox 20 mg/kg/d; doses were adjusted in response to markers of over- or under-chelation. The primary endpoint was treatment success, defined as a reduction in liver iron concentration (LIC) of ≥3 mg Fe/g dry weight (dw) if baseline LIC was ≥10 mg Fe/g dw, or final LIC of 1–7 mg Fe/g dw for patients with baseline LIC of 2 to <10 mg Fe/g dw.
Overall, 233/237 enrolled patients completed 1 yr’s treatment. Mean baseline LIC was 18.0 ± 9.1 mg Fe/g dw, while median serum ferritin was 3356 ng/mL. After 1 yr’s deferasirox treatment, the intent-to-treat population experienced a significant treatment success rate of 57.0% (P = 0.016) and a mean reduction in LIC of 3.4 mg Fe/g dw. Changes in serum ferritin appeared to parallel dose increases at around 24 wk. Most patients (78.1%) underwent dose increases above 20 mg/kg/d, primarily to 30 mg/kg/d. Drug-related adverse events were mostly mild to moderate and resolved without discontinuing treatment.
The results of the ESCALATOR study in primarily heavily iron-overloaded patients confirm previous observations in patients with β-thalassaemia, highlighting the importance of timely deferasirox dose adjustments based on serum ferritin levels and transfusional iron intake to ensure patients achieve their therapeutic goal of maintenance or reduction in iron burden.
PMCID: PMC2730551  PMID: 19187278
iron chelation; deferasirox; β-thalassaemia; transfusional iron overload
12.  Deferasirox treatment of iron-overloaded chelation-naïve and prechelated patients with myelodysplastic syndromes in medical practice: results from the observational studies eXtend and eXjange 
European Journal of Haematology  2012;88(3):260-268.
EXtend and eXjange were prospective, 1-yr, non-interventional, observational, multicentre studies that investigated deferasirox, a once-daily oral iron chelator, in iron-overloaded chelation-naïve and prechelated patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), respectively, treated in the daily-routine setting of office-based physicians. No inclusion or exclusion criteria or additional monitoring procedures were applied. Deferasirox was administered as recommended in the European Summary of Product Characteristics. Haematological parameters and adverse events (AEs) were collected at two-monthly intervals. Data from 123 chelation-naïve patients with MDS (mean age 70.4 yrs) with median baseline serum ferritin level of 2679 (range 184–16 500) ng/mL, and 44 prechelated patients with MDS (mean age 69.6 yrs) with median baseline serum ferritin level of 2442 (range 521–8565) ng/mL, were assessed. The mean prescribed daily dose of deferasirox at the first visit was 15.7 and 18.7 mg/kg/d, respectively. Treatment with deferasirox produced a significant reduction in median serum ferritin levels in chelation-naïve patients with MDS from 2679 to 2000 ng/mL (P = 0.0002) and a pronounced decrease in prechelated patients with MDS from 2442 to 2077 ng/mL (P = 0.06). The most common drug-related AEs were gastrointestinal, increased serum creatinine levels and rash. These studies demonstrate that deferasirox used in physicians’ medical practices is effective in managing iron burden in transfusion-dependent patients with MDS.
PMCID: PMC3505370  PMID: 22023452
deferasirox; oral; myelodysplastic syndromes; iron overload; iron chelation; serum ferritin; safety
13.  Exjade® (deferasirox, ICL670) in the treatment of chronic iron overload associated with blood transfusion 
Although blood transfusions are important for patients with anemia, chronic transfusions inevitably lead to iron overload as humans cannot actively remove excess iron. The cumulative effects of iron overload lead to significant morbidity and mortality, if untreated. Although the current reference standard iron chelator deferoxamine has been used clinically for over four decades, its effectiveness is limited by a demanding therapeutic regimen that leads to poor compliance. Deferasirox (Exjade®, ICL670, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland) is a once-daily, oral iron chelator approved for the treatment of transfusional iron overload in adult and pediatric patients. The efficacy and safety of deferasirox have been established in a comprehensive clinical development program involving patients with various transfusion-dependent anemias. Deferasirox has a dose-dependent effect on iron burden, and is as efficacious as deferoxamine at comparable therapeutic doses. Deferasirox therapy can be tailored to a patient’s needs, as response is related to both dose and iron intake. Since deferasirox has a long half-life and is present in the plasma for 24 hours with once-daily dosing, it is unique in providing constant chelation coverage with a single dose. The availability of this convenient, effective, and well tolerated therapy represents a significant advance in the management of transfusional iron overload.
PMCID: PMC1936310  PMID: 18360637
Exjade; deferasirox; transfusional iron overload; effective
14.  Importance of optimal dosing ≥30 mg/kg/d during deferasirox treatment: 2.7-yr follow-up from the ESCALATOR study in patients with β-thalassaemia 
European Journal of Haematology  2011;87(4):355-365.
Following 1-yr deferasirox therapy in the ESCALATOR study, 57% of previously chelated patients with β-thalassaemia achieved treatment success (maintenance of or reduction in liver iron concentration (LIC) vs. baseline LIC). Seventy-eight per cent had dose increases at median of 26 wk, suggesting that 1-yr results may not have reflected full deferasirox efficacy. Extension data are presented here. Deferasirox starting dose was 20 mg/kg/d (increases to 30/40 mg/kg/d permitted in the core/extension, respectively). Efficacy was primarily assessed by absolute change in LIC and serum ferritin. Overall, 231 patients received deferasirox in the extension; 67.4% (P < 0.0001) achieved treatment success. By the end of the extension, 66.2% of patients were receiving doses ≥30 mg/kg/d. By the end of the 1-yr extension, mean LIC had decreased by 6.6 ± 9.4 mg Fe/g dw (baseline 19.6 ± 9.2; P < 0.001) and median serum ferritin by 929 ng/mL (baseline 3356; P < 0.0001). There was a concomitant improvement in liver function markers (P < 0.0001). Fewer drug-related adverse events were reported in extension than core study (23.8% vs. 44.3%). Doses ≥30 mg/kg/d were generally required because of high transfusional iron intake and high baseline serum ferritin levels, highlighting the importance of administering an adequate dose to achieve net negative iron balance.
PMCID: PMC3229712  PMID: 21668502
deferasirox; iron chelation therapy; iron overload; β-thalassaemia; efficacy
15.  Approaching low liver iron burden in chelated patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia: the safety profile of deferasirox 
European Journal of Haematology  2014;92(6):521-526.
Patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) often develop iron overload and related complications, and may require iron chelation. However, the risk of over-chelation emerges as patients reach low, near-normal body iron levels and dose adjustments may be needed. In the THALASSA study, the threshold for chelation interruption was LIC <3 mg Fe/g dw (LIC<3); 24 patients receiving deferasirox for up to 2 yr reached this target. A post hoc analysis was performed to characterize the safety profile of deferasirox as these patients approached LIC<3.
THALASSA was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of two deferasirox regimens (5 and 10 mg/kg/d) versus placebo in patients with NTDT. Patients randomized to deferasirox or placebo in the core could enter a 1-yr extension, with all patients receiving deferasirox (extension starting doses based on LIC at end-of-core and prior chelation response). The deferasirox safety profile was assessed between baseline and 6 months before reaching LIC<3 (Period 1), and the 6 months immediately before achieving LIC<3 (Period 2).
Mean ± SD deferasirox treatment duration up to reaching LIC<3 was 476 ± 207 d, and deferasirox dose was 9.7 ± 3.0 mg/kg/d. The exposure-adjusted AE incidence regardless of causality was similar in periods 1 (1.026) and 2 (1.012). There were no clinically relevant differences in renal and hepatic laboratory parameters measured close to the time of LIC<3 compared with measurements near the previous LIC assessment.
The deferasirox safety profile remained consistent as patients approached the chelation interruption target, indicating that, with appropriate monitoring and dose adjustments in relation to iron load, low iron burdens may be reached with deferasirox with minimal risk of over-chelation.
PMCID: PMC4232858  PMID: 24460655
iron chelation; iron overload; thalassemia
16.  Update on the use of deferasirox in the management of iron overload 
Regular blood transfusions as supportive care for patients with chronic anemia inevitably lead to iron overload as humans cannot actively remove excess iron. The cumulative effects of iron overload cause significant morbidity and mortality if not effectively treated with chelation therapy. Based on a comprehensive clinical development program, the once-daily, oral iron chelator deferasirox (Exjade®) is approved for the treatment of transfusional iron overload in adult and pediatric patients with various transfusion-dependent anemias, including β-thalassemia and the myelodysplastic syndromes. Deferasirox dose should be titrated for each individual patient based on transfusional iron intake, current iron burden and whether the goal is to decrease or maintain body iron levels. Doses of >30 mg/kg/day have been shown to be effective with a safety profile consistent with that observed at doses <30 mg/kg/day. Recent data have highlighted the ability of deferasirox to decrease cardiac iron levels and to prevent the accumulation of iron in the heart. The long-term efficacy and safety of deferasirox for up to 5 years of treatment have now been established. The availability of this effective and generally well tolerated oral therapy represents a significant advance in the management of transfusional iron overload.
PMCID: PMC2773754  PMID: 19898650
deferasirox; Exjade; oral; iron chelation; iron overload; cardiac iron
17.  Efficacy and safety of deferasirox doses of >30 mg/kg per d in patients with transfusion-dependent anaemia and iron overload 
British Journal of Haematology  2009;147(5):752-759.
The highest approved dose of deferasirox is currently 30 mg/kg per d in many countries; however, some patients require escalation above 30 mg/kg per d to achieve their therapeutic goals. This retrospective analysis investigated the efficacy (based on change in serum ferritin levels) and safety of deferasirox >30 mg/kg per d in adult and paediatric patients with transfusion-dependent anaemias, including β-thalassaemia, sickle cell disease and the myelodysplastic syndromes. In total, 264 patients pooled from four clinical trials received doses of >30 mg/kg per d; median exposure to deferasirox >30 mg/kg per d was 36 weeks. In the overall population there was a statistically significant median decrease in serum ferritin of 440 μg/l (P< 0·0001) from pre-dose-escalation to the time-of-analysis; significant decreases were also observed in adult and paediatric patients, as well as β-thalassaemia patients. The adverse event profile in patients who received deferasirox doses of >30 mg/kg per d was consistent with previously published data. There was no worsening of renal or liver function following dose escalation. Deferasirox >30 mg/kg per d effectively reduced iron burden to levels lower than those achieved prior to dose escalation in patients with transfusion-dependent anaemias. This has important implications for patients who are heavily transfused and may require higher doses to reduce body iron burden.
PMCID: PMC2779992  PMID: 19764988
deferasirox; efficacy; safety; transfusion-dependent
18.  Deferasirox demonstrates a dose-dependent reduction in liver iron concentration and consistent efficacy across subgroups of non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia patients 
American Journal of Hematology  2013;88(6):503-506.
The 1-year THALASSA study enrolled 166 patients with various non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) syndromes, degrees of iron burden and patient characteristics, and demonstrated the overall efficacy and safety of deferasirox in reducing liver iron concentration (LIC) in these patients. Here, reduction in LIC with deferasirox 5 and 10 mg/kg/day starting dose groups is shown to be consistent across the following patient subgroups—baseline LIC/serum ferritin, age, gender, race, splenectomy (yes/no), and underlying NTDT syndrome (β-thalassemia intermedia, HbE/β-thalassemia or α-thalassemia). These analyses also evaluated deferasirox dosing strategies for patients with NTDT. Greater reductions in LIC were achieved in patients dose-escalated at Week 24 from deferasirox 10 mg/kg/day starting dose to 20 mg/kg/day. Patients who received an average actual dose of deferasirox >12.5–≤17.5 mg/kg/day achieved a greater LIC decrease compared with the ≥7.5–≤12.5 mg/kg/day and >0–<7.5 mg/kg/day subgroups, demonstrating a dose–response efficacy. LIC reduction across patient subgroups was generally consistent with the primary efficacy analysis with a similar safety profile. Am. J. Hematol. 88:503–506, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3698696  PMID: 23553596
19.  The Deferasirox–AmBisome Therapy for Mucormycosis (DEFEAT Mucor) study: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial 
Host iron availability is fundamental to mucormycosis pathogenesis. The combination of liposomal amphotericin B (LAmB) and deferasirox iron chelation therapy synergistically improved survival in diabetic mice with mucormycosis. To determine the safety of combination deferasirox plus LAmB therapy for mucormycosis, a multicentred, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial was conducted.
Twenty patients with proven or probable mucormycosis were randomized to receive treatment with LAmB plus deferasirox (20 mg/kg/day for 14 days) or LAmB plus placebo (NCT00419770, The primary analyses were for safety and exploratory efficacy.
Patients in the deferasirox arm (n = 11) were more likely than those in the placebo arm (n = 9) to have active malignancy, neutropenia and corticosteroid therapy, and were less likely to receive concurrent non-study antifungal therapy. Reported adverse events and serious adverse events were similar between the groups. However, death was more frequent in the deferasirox than in the placebo arm at 30 days (45% versus 11%, P = 0.1) and 90 days (82% versus 22%, P = 0.01). Global success (alive, clinically stable, radiographically improved) for the deferasirox arm versus the placebo arm at 30 and 90 days, respectively, was 18% (2/11) versus 67% (6/9) (P = 0.06) and 18% (2/11) versus 56% (5/9) (P = 0.2).
Patients with mucormycosis treated with deferasirox had a higher mortality rate at 90 days. Population imbalances in this small Phase II study make generalizable conclusions difficult. Nevertheless, these data do not support a role for initial, adjunctive deferasirox therapy for mucormycosis.
PMCID: PMC3383100  PMID: 21937481
antifungal; fungal infections; mould infections; combination therapy
20.  Longitudinal Study on Liver Functions in Patients with Thalassemia Major before and after Deferasirox (DFX) Therapy 
By performing regular blood transfusion and iron chelation therapy, most patients with beta thalassemia major (BTM) now survive beyond the third decade of life. Liver disease is becoming an important cause of morbidity and mortality in these patients. Chronic hepatitis and/or severe iron overload are both important causes of liver pathology. Iron chelation with desferrioxamine (DFO) reduces excessive body iron, but its efficacy is limited by poor compliance and dose related toxicity. The recent use of Deferasirox ( DFX ), an oral single dose therapy, has improved the compliance to chelation.
To study the long-term liver functions in BMT patients, seronegative for liver infections before versus after DFX treatment in relation to ferritin level.
Only BTM patients with hepatitis negative screening (checked every year) and on treatment with DFO for at least five years and with DFX for four years were enrolled. Liver function tests including serum bilirubin, alanine transferase (ALT), aspartate transferase (AST), albumin, insulin-like growth factor – I (IGF-I) and serum ferritin concentrations were followed every six months in 40 patients with BTM.
DFX treatment (20 mg/kg/day) significantly decreased serum ferritin level in patients with BTM; this was associated with a significant decrease in serum ALT, AST, ALP and increase in IGF-I concentrations. Albumin concentrations did not change after DFX treatment. ALT and AST levels were correlated significantly with serum ferritin concentrations ( r = 0.45 and 0.33 respectively, p < 0.05). IGF-I concentrations were correlated significantly with serum ALT (r= 0.26, p = 0.05) but not with AST, ALP, bilirubin or albumin levels.
The negative correlation between serum ferritin concentrations and ALT suggests that the impairment of hepatic function negatively affect IGF-I synthesis in these patients due to iron toxicity, even in the absence of hepatitis.
Some impairment of liver function can occur in hepatitis negative thalassemic patients with iron overload. The use of DFX was associated with mild but significant reduction of ALT, AST and ALP and increase in IGF-I levels. The negative correlation between IGF-I and ALT concentrations suggest that preventing hepatic dysfunction may improve the growth potential in these patients.
PMCID: PMC4010606  PMID: 24803998
21.  Deferasirox effectively reduces iron overload in non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) patients: 1-year extension results from the THALASSA study 
Annals of Hematology  2013;92(11):1485-1493.
Patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) often develop iron overload that requires chelation to levels below the threshold associated with complications. This can take several years in patients with high iron burden, highlighting the value of long-term chelation data. Here, we report the 1-year extension of the THALASSA trial assessing deferasirox in NTDT; patients continued with deferasirox or crossed from placebo to deferasirox. Of 133 patients entering extension, 130 completed. Liver iron concentration (LIC) continued to decrease with deferasirox over 2 years; mean change was −7.14 mg Fe/g dry weight (dw) (mean dose 9.8 ± 3.6 mg/kg/day). In patients originally randomized to placebo, whose LIC had increased by the end of the core study, LIC decreased in the extension with deferasirox with a mean change of −6.66 mg Fe/g dw (baseline to month 24; mean dose in extension 13.7 ± 4.6 mg/kg/day). Of 166 patients enrolled, 64 (38.6 %) and 24 (14.5 %) patients achieved LIC <5 and <3 mg Fe/g dw by the end of the study, respectively. Mean LIC reduction was greatest in patients with the highest pretreatment LIC. Deferasirox progressively decreases iron overload over 2 years in NTDT patients with both low and high LIC. Safety profile of deferasirox over 2 years was consistent with that in the core study.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00277-013-1808-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3790249  PMID: 23775581
Iron overload; Iron chelation; Non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia; Deferasirox
22.  Health-Related Quality of Life, Treatment Satisfaction, Adherence and Persistence in β-Thalassemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome Patients with Iron Overload Receiving Deferasirox: Results from the EPIC Clinical Trial 
Anemia  2012;2012:297641.
Treatment of iron overload using deferoxamine (DFO) is associated with significant deficits in patients' health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and low treatment satisfaction. The current article presents patient-reported HRQOL, satisfaction, adherence, and persistence data from β-thalassemia (n = 274) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients (n = 168) patients participating in the Evaluation of Patients' Iron Chelation with Exjade (EPIC) study (NCT00171821); a large-scale 1-year, phase IIIb study investigating the efficacy and safety of the once-daily oral iron chelator, deferasirox. HRQOL and satisfaction, adherence, and persistence to iron chelation therapy (ICT) data were collected at baseline and end of study using the Medical Outcomes Short-Form 36-item Health Survey (SF-36v2) and the Satisfaction with ICT Questionnaire (SICT). Compared to age-matched norms, β-thalassemia and MDS patients reported lower SF-36 domain scores at baseline. Low levels of treatment satisfaction, adherence, and persistence were also observed. HRQOL improved following treatment with deferasirox, particularly among β-thalassemia patients. Furthermore, patients reported high levels of satisfaction with deferasirox at end of study and greater ICT adherence, and persistence. Findings suggest deferasirox improves HRQOL, treatment satisfaction, adherence, and persistence with ICT in β-thalassemia and MDS patients. Improving such outcomes is an important long-term goal for patients with iron overload.
PMCID: PMC3424665  PMID: 22924125
23.  Iron Chelation Therapy in Thalassemia Syndromes 
Transfusional hemosiderosis is a frequent complication in patients with transfusion dependent chronic diseases such as thalassemias and severe type of sickle cell diseases. As there are no physiological mechanisms to excrete the iron contained in transfused red cells (1 unit of blood contains approximately 200 mg of iron) the excess of iron is stored in various organs. Cardiomyopathy is the most severe complication covering more than 70% of the causes of death of thalassemic patients. Although the current reference standard iron chelator deferoxamine (DFO) has been used clinically for over four decades, its effectiveness is limited by a demanding therapeutic regimen that leads to poor compliance. Despite poor compliance, because of the inconvenience of subcutaneous infusion, DFO improved considerably the survival and quality of life of patients with thalassemia. Deferiprone since 1998 and Deferasirox since 2005 were licensed for clinical use. The oral chelators have a better compliance because of oral use, a comparable efficacy to DFO in iron excretion and probably a better penetration to myocardial cells. Considerable increase in iron excretion was documented with combination therapy of DFO and Deferiprone. The proper use of the three chelators will improve the prevention and treatment of iron overload, it will reduce complications, and improve survival and quality of life of transfused patients.
PMCID: PMC3033168  PMID: 21415999
24.  Chelation Therapy with Oral Solution of Deferiprone in Transfusional Iron-Overloaded Children with Hemoglobinopathies 
Anemia  2013;2013:121762.
Iron overload in hemoglobinopathies is secondary to blood transfusions, chronic hemolysis, and increased iron absorption and leads to tissue injury requiring the early use of chelating agents. The available agents are parenteral deferoxamine and oral deferiprone and deferasirox. There are limited data on the safety and efficacy of deferiprone at a very young age. The aim of our study was the presentation of data regarding the use of oral solution of deferiprone in 9 children (mean age 6.5, range 2–10) with transfusion dependent hemoglobinopathies (6 beta thalassemia major, 1 thalassemia intermedia, and 2 sickle cell beta thalassemia). The mean duration of treatment was 21.5 months (range 15–31). All children received the oral solution without any problems of compliance. Adverse reactions were temporary abdominal discomfort and diarrhea (1 child), mild neutropenia (1 child) that resolved with no need of discontinuation of treatment, and transient arthralgia (1 child) that resolved spontaneously. The mean ferritin levels were significantly reduced at the end of 12 months (initial 2440 versus final 1420 μg/L, P < 0.001). This small study shows that oral solution of deferiprone was well tolerated by young children and its use was not associated with major safety concerns. Furthermore, it was effective in decreasing serum ferritin.
PMCID: PMC3835355  PMID: 24294523
25.  Reduction in labile plasma iron during treatment with deferasirox, a once-daily oral iron chelator, in heavily iron-overloaded patients with β-thalassaemia 
European Journal of Haematology  2009;82(6):454-457.
This subgroup analysis evaluated the effect of once-daily oral deferasirox on labile plasma iron (LPI) levels in patients from the prospective, 1-yr, multicentre ESCALATOR study. Mean baseline liver iron concentration and median serum ferritin levels were 28.6 ± 10.3 mg Fe/g dry weight and 6334 ng/mL respectively, indicating high iron burden despite prior chelation therapy. Baseline LPI levels (0.98 ± 0.82 μmol/L) decreased significantly to 0.12 ± 0.16 μmol/L, 2 h after first deferasirox dose (P=0.0006). Reductions from pre- to post-deferasirox administration were also observed at all other time points. Compared to baseline, there was a significant reduction in preadministration LPI that reached the normal range at week 4 and throughout the remainder of the study (P≤0.02). Pharmacokinetic analysis demonstrated an inverse relationship between preadministration LPI levels and trough deferasirox plasma concentrations. Once-daily dosing with deferasirox ≥20 mg/kg/d provided sustained reduction in LPI levels in these heavily iron-overloaded patients, suggesting 24-h protection from LPI. Deferasirox may therefore reduce unregulated tissue iron loading and prevent further end-organ damage.
PMCID: PMC2730549  PMID: 19191863
deferasirox; oral; β-thalassaemia; labile plasma iron; pharmacokinetic

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