Newly Approved Meds Rarely Used for Sickle Cell Disease

Conceptual image of sickle cell anemia with red blood cells.
Hydroxyurea used by 24.6 percent with sickle cell disease, while l-glutamine, voxelotor, crizanlizumab were used by 2.0, 1.9, and 1.4 percent

HealthDay News — Newly approved medications are rarely used for sickle cell disease (SCD), according to a study published online March 8 in Blood Advances.

Robert Cronin, MD, from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues examined the use of US Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for SCD by age, sex, and geographic location using data from MarketScan from 2016 to 2020. Use of hydroxyurea, l-glutamine, voxelotor, and crizanlizumab, alone or concurrently, was examined as the primary outcome in a cohort of 7957 individuals aged 18 years or older with SCD.

The researchers found that hydroxyurea was used by 24.6% of all individuals with SCD, while l-glutamine, voxelotor, and crizanlizumab were used by 2.0, 1.9, and 1.4%, respectively. For every 10-year increase in age, the odds of using hydroxyurea, l-glutamine, and crizanlizumab were reduced. The odds of hydroxyurea, but not other medication, use were increased for women (odds ratio, 1.27). Increased odds of using all medications were seen for individuals with a higher Charlson comorbidity index. For hydroxyurea and l-glutamine, geographic region variation was noted. Not being in a super rural geographic location was associated with significantly higher odds of utilizing crizanlizumab, but not other medications (odds ratio, 2.93).

“I think it is important that we educate both providers and patients about the options that exist to treat their condition,” Cronin said in a statement. “From the patient standpoint, providing patient-friendly material that allows them to be knowledgeable about their disease and advocate for themselves can help improve care for this population.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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