Background: A risk associated with the iron chelator deferiprone is the development of neutropenia or agranulocytosis. Accordingly, the product label recommends weekly blood monitoring and immediate interruption of treatment upon detection of an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) <1.5×109/L, out of concern that continued therapy might lead to a more severe drop. However, it is uncertain how these recommendations are followed under real-life conditions and, if they are not followed, whether continuation of therapy results in increased incidence of agranulocytosis. Procedure: This non-interventional surveillance program assessed the monitoring of deferiprone therapy in clinical practice. A total of 294 patients with transfusion-dependent anemias received deferiprone, as monotherapy or with another chelator, for up to 1 year. The participating physicians were not given any instructions about treatment and monitoring beyond being referred to the information in the package insert. Results: ANC monitoring was conducted at an average interval of 5±4 weeks, and deferiprone was not always interrupted upon detection of neutropenia. One patient (0.3%) experienced agranulocytosis, and nine others (3%) experienced a total of 11 episodes of neutropenia. All neutropenia episodes resolved; median time to resolution was similar whether or not treatment was interrupted; and no case of neutropenia progressed to agranulocytosis. Conclusions: These data indicate that less frequent ANC monitoring and continuation of deferiprone therapy during neutropenia are not associated with prolonged neutropenia or with progression to agranulocytosis.
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