Precautions and Warnings With Deferiprone

If you have a slow heart rate, congestive heart failure, or liver disease, talk to your healthcare provider before beginning treatment with deferiprone. Warnings for safely using this drug also include precautions for people who have certain allergies or those who are taking certain medications. This drug can also cause life-threatening problems, such as infections or heart rhythm problems.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking deferiprone (Ferriprox®) if you have:
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, hepatitis, or cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Low potassium levels (hypokalemia)
  • Low magnesium levels (hypomagnesemia)
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • A slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • QT prolongation or long QT syndrome
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Deferiprone Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this drug include the following:
  • Deferiprone can cause dangerously low white blood cell levels. This can be fatal, as it can lead to potentially life-threatening infections. Your healthcare provider should monitor your white blood cell counts using a simple blood test. Report any and all infections, no matter how minor, to your healthcare provider right away.
  • There has been a report of a fatal heart rhythm disturbance occurring in a person taking deferiprone with a history of QT prolongation (a change in heart rhythm). Although thorough studies have not explored this possibility, deferiprone might cause or worsen QT prolongation. Certain factors, such as congestive heart failure, a slow heart rate, low potassium or magnesium levels, or long QT syndrome, might increase this risk. In these cases, careful monitoring of the heart is usually recommended.
  • Let your healthcare provider know right away if you develop any symptoms of a change in heart rhythm, such as:
    • Fainting
    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Heart palpitations.
  • Deferiprone can cause elevated liver enzymes, which can be a sign of liver problems. Your healthcare provider should monitor your liver enzymes using a simple blood test.
  • Deferiprone can cause low levels of zinc in the blood. Your healthcare provider should check your zinc levels and prescribe supplements if necessary. Keep in mind that you must not take zinc within four hours of a dose of deferiprone, since zinc binds to the drug and makes it less effective.
  • This medicine can cause severe drowsiness and difficulty breathing, which may lead to life-threatening complications. This risk is increased when deferiprone is combined with alcohol, narcotics, or other medications or substances that cause drowsiness and sedation (see Drug Interactions With Deferiprone for more information). You should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how this medication will affect you.
  • Deferiprone is a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see Ferriprox and Pregnancy).
  • It is unknown if deferiprone passes through breast milk in humans. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Ferriprox and Breastfeeding).

Deferiprone Drug Information

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