What We’re Reading: Sickle Cell Cure Complexity; Free Care for Veterans in Suicidal Crisis; Pfizer to Offer Low-Cost Drugs to Underserved Countries

The reality of a sickle cell disease cure brings fear, optimism, and questions to patients’ lives; veterans who are in suicidal crisis can receive free emergency care at any Department of Veterans Affairs or private facility; Pfizer to increase access to progressive treatments through sale of drugs at non-profit prices to poor countries.

Forthcoming Sickle Cell Cure Elicits Complex Emotions

As soon as this year, a gene therapy that is essentially a cure for sickle cell disease might become available, reports The New York Times. FDA approval is being sought by 2 drug companies for gene therapies. Clinical trials have included one gene therapy drug from bluebird bio and another from Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics that have eliminated pain episodes experienced by people with sickle cell disease. Current sufferers of the disease report a range of feelings, like concern for the link between sickle cell disease and their identity, the financial and logistical barriers to getting the treatment, and the optimistic hope that it will improve their lives.

Veterans in Suicidal Crisis Now Eligible for Free Care

Starting today, US military veterans experiencing suicidal crisis can receive free emergency medical care at any Veterans Affairs (VA) or private facility, even if they aren’t enrolled in the VA system, according to NBC News. Up to 30 days of inpatient or crisis residential care will be covered, and up to 90 days of follow-up outpatient care. Over 18 million US veterans might be eligible. The policy will be broadcasted by the VA on Friday. The hope is that if financial burden is reduced, that this care can save veterans’ lives.

Pfizer to Sell Drugs at Non-Profit Price in Low-Income Countries

US drug manufacturer Pfizer Inc. reported today that it will make its complete drug portfolio available on a not-for-profit basis to 45 low-income countries worldwide, announced Reuters. Drugs offered include off-patent medications like chemotherapies and oral cancer treatments. This declaration is an extension of company program “An Accord for a Healthier World” that is intended to expand access to advanced treatments in some of the most impoverished countries globally.

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David A. Eagle, MD, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists
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