Britain’s National Health Service approves of new treatment for Sickle Cell Anaemia

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Life-changing Sickle Cell Disease treatment approved by NHS watchdog

A new automatic blood transfusion treatment will half the number of visits to hospital for people with Sickle Cell Disease

Spectra Optia Apheresis System

The system automatically transfuses red blood cells into the body and takes just a few hours

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

2 March 2016 – The Telegraph (UK)

Thousands of people suffering from Britain’s most common genetic disorder have been offered new hope after the health watchdog approved a ground-breaking new treatment.

Sickle Cell Disease affects around 15,000 people in Britain who struggle to make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.

Current treatments involve lengthy manual transfusions which can take more than 24 hours every month. But a new device allows the red blood cells to be replaced in as little as three hours, and patients need only visit a clinic for the therapy six times a year.

Sickle celled RBCs

In Sickle Cell Disease red blood cells become crescent shaped

 

Professor Carole Longson MBE, Director of the Nice Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Sickle cell can be a painful, debilitating condition, potentially leading to major organ damage.

“Treatments are very limited, so this new guidance recommends a novel option which is very good news for patients as it makes the red blood cell exchange process faster and less frequent. The device could save the NHS in England an estimated £13 million each year – around £18,000 per patient – with the size of the saving depending on the patient’s condition and the equipment already owned by the NHS.”

In sickle cell disease, blood cells are a crescent – or sickle – shape instead of the normal round disc shape, affecting the cell’s ability to carry oxygen and move around the body.

Symptoms may include intense pain and severe anaemia, and the condition can cause damage to major organs and infections, and life-threatening complications. There is no cure for sickle cell disease but patients can be supported to manage the condition.

Curently blood transfusion therapies increase the amount of iron in a person’s body which can lead to serious problems such as liver disease or heart failure. Iron limiting therapy is required to reduce the amount of iron in the body, but this treatment can make some patients feel unwell and is very expensive for the NHS.

Manual blood transfusion

Previously transfusions happened manually and could take more than 24 hours

 

John James, Chief Executive of the Sickle Cell Society, said: “The Sickle Cell Society welcomes the NICE guidance on Spectra Optia.

“The Society has worked hard to improve access to this technology, and participated in the process every step of the way with NICE to help produce the guidance.

“Many people living with sickle cell would benefit from automated red cell exchange and guidance will enable more and more patients to access this treatment. We anticipate that this guidance will help more hospitals adopt the technology, saving patients from costly and often exhausting travel.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12179801/Life-changing-Sickle-Cell-Disease-treatment-approved-by-NHS-watchdog.html

sickled-red-blood-cells

NICE approves sickle cell device that could save NHS £13m per year

NICE has recommended a new device for managing sickle cell disease that makes treatment for the condition easier and quicker, and could save the NHS around £13 million per year.

NICE has recommended a new device for managing sickle cell disease that makes treatment for the condition easier and quicker, and could save the NHS around £13 million per year.

In latest guidance, NICE recommends the Spectra Optia Apheresis System for red blood exchange in patients with sickle cell disease who require regular transfusion.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder which leads to red blood cells developing abnormally. While normal red blood cells are flexible and disc-shaped, in those with sickle cell disease the cells become crescent shaped and rigid.

Common symptoms may include intense pain and severe anaemia, and the condition can cause damage to major organs and infections, leading to life-threatening complications.

In the UK, around 240,000 people are thought to carry the genetic trait that leads to the disorder, and 12,500-15,000 people carry the disease. Though the condition can affect people from any ethnic group, it is more prevalent among people of African and African-Caribbean descent.

One effective treatment for sickle cell disease is blood transfusion which can treat and prevent complications that relate to the disease.

However the treatment can be painful, can often take a long time to carry out, and can lead to the patient gaining excessive levels of iron which they are unable to excrete – known as iron overload.

Watch Neil Westerdale, sickle cell advanced nurse practitioner for adults at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London, talk about the disease and benefits of treatment with the Spectra Optia System.

NICE guidance on the Spectra Optia says the system is effective for blood transfusion in managing sickle cell disease. It can lead to less numbers of treatments that last for a shorter period of time. In addition, the system is effective in treating patients who are already iron overloaded, since it aims to aid no additional iron during the process

The device is also likely to result in significant cost savings, estimated at £18,100 per patient per year, potentially saving the NHS in England £12.9 million each year.

The savings depend on the iron overload status of the patient, and are more likely to be achieved if devices already owned by the NHS can be used to treat sickle cell disease.

Value to patients is “absolutely immeasurable”

Professor Carole Longson MBE, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Sickle cell can be a painful, debilitating condition, potentially leading to major organ damage. Treatments are very limited, so this new guidance recommends a novel option which is very good news for patients as it makes the red blood cell exchange process faster and less frequent.

“The device could save the NHS in England an estimated £13 million each year – around £18,000 per patient – with the size of the saving depending on the patient’s condition and the equipment already owned by the NHS.”

Kelly Samuel, who has sickle cell disease and is being treated with the Spectra Optia system, and who also contributed to the development of the NICE guidance said: “Without Spectra Optia treatment my health and quality of life would be radically diminished. My Sickle Cell Disease would dominate my existence with pain, weakness, and ultimately death.

“This treatment has been a real lifeline – nowadays my life isn’t constantly overshadowed by the grim prospect of spending weeks, and sometimes months in a hospital bed. Thankfully, I have regular access to the treatment, which I only need to have 5 or 6 times a year instead of every month with the old treatment.  I now have the strength to enjoy my work, my children, family and friends and study for a postgraduate degree.

“This NICE guideline can encourage best practice in managing sickle cell throughout the NHS – its value to patients is absolutely immeasurable.”

Source: https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-approves-sickle-cell-device-that-could-save-nhs-%C2%A313m-per-year

NICE UK logo

For More information please visit the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (N.I.C.E.): https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/mtg28

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