A drug named Crizanlizumab, produced by Novartis has been approved for Sickle Cell treatment in England by the National Health Service (NHS). This development has been described by the NHS as revolutionary.
Crizanlizumab, which is the first treatment for the disease, is expected to give hope to millions of people affected by the disease across the world.
Sickle Cell Disease 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.
What this means
This is a groundbreaking invention because people with Sickle cell disease have had to endure severe pain during their ‘sickle cell crisis’ which can occur multiple times in a year, often even leading to hospitalizations so they can be helped to control the pain and prevent fatal organ failure.
According to the NHS’ chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, the drug deal would help thousands of people over the next three years to have a much better quality of life.
What you should know
The drug, Crizanlizumab, made by Novartis, is injected into a vein and can be taken on its own or alongside standard treatment and regular blood transfusions.
In a trial, it was discovered that patients taking the Crizanlizumab had a crisis 1.6 times a year on average, compared to a normal average of three-time yearly.
Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria
In Nigeria however, it is estimated that 25% of the adult population are carriers of defective S-gene as the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire recently disclosed 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.
The Minister said sickle cell is the most prevalent genetic disease in Africa, stating 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.
Addressing the country’s high rate of SCD in the world, 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 new-borns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell anaemia, 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.”