Sickle Cell Disease gets approved treatment drug

The National Health Service (NHS), England has approved a drug it described as revolutionary, named Crizanlizumab, for Sickle Cell Disease treatment.

Sickle Cell Disease, SCD, is a genetic hereditary disorder that occurs when an individual has inherited two mutant (abnormal) hemoglobin (Hb) genes from both parents, at least one of which is HbS and the resulting symptoms and signs are due to abnormality in the shape of red blood cells.

The disease affects millions of people across the world.

Crizanlizumab is produced by Novartis and is the first treatment available for the disease.

The approval of the use of this drug in Sickle Cell Disease treatment is a welcome development that is expected to bring huge relief to millions of sufferers who have had to endure severe pain during their ‘sickle cell crisis.

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This crisis can occur multiple times in a year, often leading to several hospitalizations with attendant financial cost implications and fatal organ failure.

According to Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of NHS,  the drug would help thousands of people over the next three years to have a much better quality of life.

About the Drug

The drug, Crizanlizumab is injected into a vein and can be taken on its own or alongside standard treatment and regular blood transfusions. It is produced by Novartis.

It was observed during the trial of the drug, that patients taking it had a crisis 1.6 times a year on average, compared to a normal average of three-time yearly.

Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria

An estimated 25% of the adult population in Nigeria are carriers of defective S-gene.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this recently, saying that records showed that the disease affects nearly 100 million people in the world and is responsible for over 50 percent of deaths in those with the most severe form of the disease.

Ehanire said sickle cell is the most prevalent genetic disease in Africa, adding that in many countries including Nigeria, 10 to 40% of the population carry the sickle-cell gene resulting in an estimated SCD prevalence of at least 2%, according to ThisDay.

In his word, the Minister said, “Nigeria currently has the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disease in the whole World ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo and India, with an estimated 25% of her adult population being carriers of defective S-gene.

“WHO in 2015 estimated that 2% of newborns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell anemia, giving a total of about 150,000 affected children born every year. About 50% –80% of the estimated 150,000 infants born yearly with SCD in Nigeria die before the age of five years and those that manage to survive, suffer end-organs damage which shortens their lifespan including stroke.”