In October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved deferiprone, a drug that helps remove heavy metals from the body, for the treatment of iron overload in patients with thalassemia. The drug was approved despite objections from critics, who say the drug's maker has failed to provide adequate data supporting the medication's safety and efficacy.
Patients with thalassemia, a rare disorder that causes anemia, develop iron overload after multiple blood transfusions. Iron overload may increase the risk of liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, heart problems, and death. Deferiprone was approved for patients who have not responded to treatment with other chelation drugs.