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An Old Medication Can Improve The Lives Of Young Sickle Cell Sufferers

An Old Medication Can Improve The Lives Of Young Sickle Cell SufferersHidden among our 46 lengthy chromosomes is a particularly sneaky and dangerous gene. If a person has just one copy of this gene, he or she has a much better ability to resist malaria, that mosquito-borne plague that kills so many people in tropical climates every year.

However, when a person inherits two copies of the gene, one from each parent, he or she will almost certainly develop sickle-cell anemia, a disease which causes red blood cells to turn into sickle shapes instead of the normal full circles. These sickles can’t carry nearly as much oxygen as normal red blood cells, and so people with this disease usually need regular blood transfusions to avoid dying from lack of oxygen. They also need to deal with all the extra iron that builds up after several transfusions.

But all that has been changing thanks to hydroxyurea, a medication that’s been on the market for over 100 years as a chemotherapy drug used on certain kinds of leukemia. At the moment, there are a few competing explanations for why this drug can keep red blood cells from sickling, but the results are unmistakable: fewer sickle cells, fewer required transfusions, and a much safer and easier life for people who, in previous centuries, most likely would have died within a year of being born.

Hydroxyurea has been catching on with adults who have sickle cell disease for years now, but a few recent studies have shown that it’s just as effective and safe enough for kids to use even at a young age. This is very good news, since sickle cell disease can become active practically from birth. As such, if children can start on hydroxyurea immediately, it can save them from years of emergency visits and blood transfusions.

One other nice thing about hydroxyurea is the fact that it’s an old drug with plenty of generic options that can keep costs down, but the bad news is that generic options haven’t kept drug prices from rising across the board in recent years. That can lead to rising copays if insurance companies don’t want to take on all the increasing expense themselves, and so it can help to have a fallback option like the USA Rx pharmacy discount card.

Signing up for our program is free and easy, and while we don’t replace your health insurance policy, we do offer up to 75 percent off the list price of both brand name and generic prescription medications. If your copay is cheaper, you’re free to use it, but in many cases you’ll get a better deal with our discount. You can discover more by contacting us at [email protected] or by calling our toll-free number at 888-277-3911.

Published October 27th, 2016 by Stephanie Clegg
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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