Thalassaemia major is a genetic disease characterised by a reduced ability to produce haemoglobin. Management of the resulting anaemia is through red blood cell transfusions.
Repeated transfusions result in an excessive accumulation of iron in the body (iron overload), removal of which is achieved through iron chelation therapy. Desferrioxamine mesylate (desferrioxamine) is one of the most widely used iron chelators. Substantial data have shown the beneficial effects of desferrioxamine, although adherence to desferrioxamine therapy is a challenge. Alternative oral iron chelators, deferiprone and deferasirox, are now commonly used. Important questions exist about whether desferrioxamine, as monotherapy or in combination with an oral iron chelator, is the best treatment for iron chelation therapy.