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Dr Ahmar Zaidi: How Social Determinants Could Limit Access to Gene Therapy for Sickle Cell

The only thing that should matter in these patients is their genetic code, but often it’s your zip code that really restrains your ability to access the healthcare you deserve, explained Ahmar Zaidi, MD, pediatric hematologist-oncologist, Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Children's Hospital of Michigan, when discussing the possibility of a gene therapy for sickle cell.


The only thing that should matter in these patients is their genetic code, but often it’s your zip code that really restrains your ability to access the healthcare you deserve, explained Ahmar Zaidi, MD, pediatric hematologist-oncologist, Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Children's Hospital of Michigan, when discussing the possibility of a gene therapy for sickle cell.

Transcript

What are your hopes if the first gene therapy for sickle cell is approved?

Of course, with any new therapy that comes out, the hopes are that it’s going to push the needle forward on survival, it’s going to push the needle forward on quality of life. So, we hope for a completely successful trial with as little adverse event as possible. We hope that it’s easy to deploy, we hope that patients are also buying into the importance of curative options. While curative options may night be the front runner or immediate choice as far as therapies go, it’s always good to have a curative option that is accessible to patients.

Do you have any concerns if a gene therapy is approved?

I guess the biggest downfall to me is related to the social determinants, where the only thing that should matter in these patients is their genetic code, but often it’s your zip code that really restrains your ability to access the healthcare you deserve. The truth of the matter is there are going to be few centers that are able to perform gene therapy, and that might limit the amount of patients that have access to it. That’s something that worries me a little bit.

 
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