A new device for managing sickle cell disease could save the NHS in the region of £13 million annually.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has already recommended the device, believing that it will make sickle cell disease easier to manage.
In its latest guidance, NICE recommends the Spectra Optia Apheresis System for red blood exchange in patients with sickle cell disease who require regular transfusion.
Although sickle cell disease is not a particularly well-known condition, it is fairly common in the United Kingdom.
Around 250,000 people in Britain currently carries the genetic trait that ultimately leads to the disorder, although only 15,000 people currently suffer from the disease itself.
The condition can affect people from any ethnic group, but it is significantly more prevalent among the people of African and African-Caribbean descent.
Previously, sickle cell disease has been treated via blood transfusions, which tends to treat and prevent complications related to the disease.
However, this can be a painful process, it is also extremely time-consuming.
Blood transfusion treatments for sickle cell disease can also lead to the patient gaining excessive levels of iron which they are unable to excrete – known as iron overload.
The new device will result in significant cost savings according to nice guidance, which have been estimated at over £18,000 per per patient.
Averaged out among the number of people currently suffering from sickle cell disease in the UK, this amounts to £12.9 million annually.
Commenting on the new discovery, Professor Carole Longson MBE, Director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, was extremely enthusiastic about its potential.
“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.”
And 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, is extremely positive about the new system.
“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.”