Medical Community in Saudi Arabia Praises New Oral Treatment for Iron Overload
Medical experts in Saudi Arabia have praised the results of a new oral treatment designed to ease the pain and suffering of patients with chronic iron overload caused by repeated blood transfusions.
Exjade, a once a day oral chelator for the treatment of iron overload, a cumulative and potentially life-threatening consequence of frequent blood transfusions, is waiting for approval from the Ministry of Health before being distributed through the country.
Clinical trials of the new drug conducted in the Kingdom have been highly successful.
Iron chelation is often necessary to prevent potentially life-threatening complications of excess iron in patients who receive regular blood transfusions for diseases such as thalassemia, myelodyoplastic syndromes, sickle cell disease and other anemias.
Dr Ahmed Tarawah, a pediatric heamatologist at the Thalassemia Clinic at the Children and Maternity Hospital in Al Madinah, said: “Exjade is a very effective and safe medication. The difference for a patient in taking orally one tablet a day compared to hours of current iron chelation is immense. There is a great deal of improvement in a patient’s quality of life when they take the drug as opposed to the traditional treatment.”
Signs of iron overload may be detected after as few as twenty units of blood. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the excess iron in the body is likely to lead to damage of the liver, heart, and endocrine glands.
The body has no inherent mechanism to remove excess iron, so iron chelation is used as an effective treatment for transfusion-related iron overload. Currently an infusion pump is used by the patient which can take from eight to 12 hours for five to seven nights a week while the patient continues to receive blood transfusions or has excess iron within their body.
Dr Ahmed Sulaiman, a pediatric heamatologist at King Fahad Hospital in Al Hassa, an area in the Eastern region of the Kingdom which is endemic with thalassemia, sickle cell and other blood disorders, said: “So far 50 of our patients have been taking Exjade and it is proving to be a wonderful drug. It is very easy for them to use and all are very co-operative with the treatment – they have no reason to not continue with taking the tablet.
“Previously many would give up due to the restrictions of their previous treatment and the constraints it placed on their lives.”
Exjade, is currently the only oral chelator approved by the FDA, and has been approved in the EMEA, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Australia.
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