Children with thalassemia suffer from iron overload; what is the best iron-removing treatment?

In general the iron accumulating from multiple transfusions can be removed from the body quite effectively with chelation therapy, which employs drugs like deferoxamine (Desferal), deferiprone (Ferriprox or Kelfer), or desferasirox (Asunra or Exjade). However, all these drugs may have significant side effects.

Additionally, while the cost of appropriate chelation therapy is variable, it is generally more than $5,000 USD per year. In developing countries the main problem remains access to care and the cost of drugs for chelation, which are well above the average income. Without access to regular chelation therapy and medical follow ups, the majority of children with thalassemia do not reach the age of 10. Some centers may provide subsidized drugs and suppotive care.

These answers have been prepared by:
- Dr. Lawrence Faulkner, Cure2Children medical team coordinator
- Dr. Sadaf Khalid, Cure2Children Pakistan branch coordinator