Health Team

Study: Sickle cell patients not getting recommended therapies

Posted September 9, 2014 6:41 p.m. EDT

— Sickle cell disease is a life-threatening genetic disorder affecting almost 100,000 Americans.

The disease causes chronic health problems and often severe pain.

In a study released Tuesday, experts found many patients are not getting some recommended therapies.

The expert panel reviewed 30 years of studies and trials on sickle cell.

"There are improved treatments. Hydroxyurea is greatly effective in reducing pain and other complications and prolonging patients' lives,” said Dr. George R. Buchanan with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Unfortunately most people aren't taking that medicine yet and it's a big problem."

Daily penicillin and blood transfusions are also effective treatments for sickle cell patients. While those treatments can help prevent infection in children up to age 5, experts said more research is needed.