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The Current Players in Sickle Cell Disease

A look at the quarter of available drugs for the rare disease, and how they fare in relation to evolving understanding of disease effect.

Earlier this year, Kenneth Ataga, MD, and colleagues published a new review and meta-analysis of patients with sickle cell disease which showed those with low hemoglobin levels suffer from an increased risk of comorbidities including cerebrovascular disease, kidney disease, pulmonary vasculopathy.

Their findings also showed an increased risk of overall mortality among these same patients, versus those with higher levels.

Though this sort of finding can now inform developing and future clinical trials, it also shines a new light on the agents currently approved and marketed to treat the rare hematologic condition: a quartet of therapies which actually fare differently in managing hemoglobin levels.

In a recent interview with HCPLive®, Ataga, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, discussed the current landscape of sickle cell disease drugs in relation to their impact on patient hemoglobin.

Among the 4 indicated for the disease, he highlighted hydroxyurea and voxelotor (Oxbryta) as capably proven to increase hemoglobin levels.

“It is considerable that these medications might have some benefit in decreasing the risk of secondary complications in patients of sickle cell disease,” Ataga said.

He also discussed the history of clinical assessments for sickle cell disease up until this significant discovery—and how they may now be shaped going forward.

“This is an important piece to add to that,” he said. “Anemia is important to these patients, and shouldn’t be something we ignore, because perhaps if we improve the anemias of these patients, we can improve their quality of life and risk of secondary complications.”