Cyprus Mail

New thalassemia drug slashes number of necessary blood transfusions

Europe is set to approve a new drug for thalassemia patients which will halve the number of blood transfusions they need, the International Thalassemia Federation announced on Monday.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is examining a drug called Reblozyl which has just been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat thalassemia patients.

The FDA approved the drug on Friday, the first time a medication for the management of the specific disease was approved by a recognised drug administration.

Thalassemia, also called Mediterranean anaemia, is an inherited blood disorder. It is divided to two main types, α-thalassemia where patients are missing a number of alpha genes and β-thalassemia where patients are missing beta genes.

Recent data revealed about 550 β-thalassaemia patients in Cyprus with more than 1 in 10 people being carriers of the disease.

Until now, patients of the beta type have to undergo regular blood-transfusions for life every two to five weeks. Blood transfusions significantly affect patients’ quality of life due to the short space between appointments. Most patients also end up with excess iron in their system, which has to be removed by a different procedure.

The new revolutionary treatment method with Reblozyl, reduced by at least 33 per cent the number of blood transfusions over a three-month period. Longer periods under the new treatment showed a 50 per cent decrease in blood transfusions.

The International Thalassemia Federation said there would be a discussion at the beginning of December with doctors, patients’ representatives and the health ministry in Cyprus to inform them of the new treatment.

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