Continuation of deferiprone therapy in patients with mild neutropenia may not lead to a more severe drop in neutrophil count

Amal M. El-Beshlawy, Mohsen S. El-Alfy, Teny Tjitra Sari, Lee L. Chan, Fernando Tricta

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Approximately 6% of patients with thalassemia receiving deferiprone develop neutropenia. Present practice is to monitor absolute neutrophil count (ANC) weekly and to interrupt treatment at the first sign of neutropenia, lest continuation lead to progressive neutrophil reduction. In a 6-month study evaluating the safety and efficacy of a liquid form of deferiprone in 100 children, ANC was initially checked weekly for all patients. For individuals experiencing mild neutropenia, deferiprone was continued but monitoring was increased to daily until resolution. Therapy was to be suspended only if the episode was prolonged or if it worsened. Four patients experienced single episodes of mild neutropenia, and two others each experienced two episodes. All eight episodes resolved within 4-7 d despite continued therapy. (One patient later developed agranulocytosis and had treatment terminated.) This study showed that not all cases of mild neutropenia during deferiprone therapy develop into agranulocytosis, and suggests that many may not be caused by deferiprone. Transient declines in ANC to levels defined as neutropenic are common even in healthy individuals, particularly children; and it could be that the frequent monitoring of ANC mandated during deferiprone therapy may reveal cases of transient neutropenia that would otherwise have gone undetected and resolved on their own without clinical consequences. In patients with thalassemia, several factors increase the probability of a transient fall in ANC. These findings raise the question of whether deferiprone should be routinely stopped in cases of mild neutropenia, provided that such patients have their ANC monitored more frequently during the neutropenic episode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-340
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Haematology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Agranulocytosis
  • Deferiprone
  • Neutropenia
  • Thalassemia


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