A Cure for Thalassemia in Rs 10

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After 12 years of research doctors have finally found a cure for Thalassemia a produced a capsule that costs only rupees ten.

Dr. Saqib Hussain Ansari while speaking at a seminar on Thalassemia said our medicine is making wonders putting lives on normal footing and saving huge money and blood that has been spent on the efforts to save Thalassemia patients.

The doctor has been running Omair Sana Foundation for Thalassemic children for the past several years. The seminar was a part of the several programs organized by the foundation. Dr. Ansari in his speech announced the results of 3,000 latest tests which showed that the medicine, hydroxyurea (HU) had improved the life of 40pc of the young patients.

Of the remaining 60pc children 30pc responded partially decreasing the blood transfusion cycle while the other 30 pc remained unreceptive to the medicine.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body cannot produce adequate amount of hemoglobin for the red blood cells. The result is severe anemia and patients require a blood transfusion every month in addition to treatment for “iron overload” due to excessive transfusions.

In Pakistan, around 5,000 to 9,000 children are born with beta-Thalassemia annually and the projected carrier rate ranges between five per cent and seven per cent. The annual average treatment expense is $4,400 per patient (Rs.15,000 to Rs.20,000 per month).

The research work was initiated in 2003 in the National Institute of Blood Diseases, an Institute where children with genetic blood disorders are treated. After 10 years of research it was discovered that the drug was effective in children suffering from Thalassemia, due to 6 of the total 17 disorders. The research was published in the US Journal of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology in 2007 and 2011.

“There are 9.8 million carriers of this disease in the country”, he said, “If the new drug is applied to Thalassemia children Rs. 12 billion and 500,000 blood bags can be saved annually”.

Hydroxyurea is an FDA-approved drug for patients suffering from sickle cell anemia and is being used in the US for the past 20 years. He said that the use of this drug also produced very encouraging results in Iran and India.

“Treating children with Thalassemia is one thing, but prevention is something that we need the most as it will save children from being inflicted with the disease in future, thus their population would decrease and our national exchequer will prosper,” said Dr. Ansari.

He demanded that the government mention the status of Thalassemia in the national identity cards (CNICs) and ensure free of charge Thalassemia tests across the country.

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