FRIDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Ferriprox (deferiprone) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat excess blood iron among people who require frequent transfusions.

People with the genetic blood disorder thalessemia have an insufficient supply of hemoglobin, the protein that helps deliver oxygenated blood throughout the body. They often need frequent blood transfusions, which may lead to a buildup of iron in the blood (iron overload). People with thalessemia also are at greater-than-average risk of developing liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, heart failure or an abnormal heart rhythm, the FDA said in a news release.

Ferriprox has been approved for use in cases where other methods to remove excess iron are insufficient, the agency said.

In clinical testing of the drug, the most common side effects noted were nausea, vomiting, abdominal and joint pain, discolored urine, a potentially deadly decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells, and an increase in a liver enzyme that may indicate tissue or liver damage.

As a condition of approval, the Toronto-based drug maker ApoPharma must study the use of Ferriprox among people with iron overload who also have sickle cell disease, the FDA said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about iron overload.