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NICE backs device that speeds up treatment for sickle cell disease

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A device for managing sickle cell disease, which makes treatment easier and quicker for patients, has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The NICE medical technology guidance supports the use of the Spectra Optia Apheresis System for automated red blood cell exchange in patients with sickle cell disease who need regular transfusion.

“It makes the red blood cell exchange process faster and less frequent”

Carole Longson 

The device automatically replaces sickle red blood cells with healthy red blood cells. Patients need the process less often than manual red blood cell exchange because it is faster, said NICE.

There are between 12,500 and 15,000 people with sickle cell disease in the UK.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Sickle cell can be a painful, debilitating condition, potentially leading to major organ damage.

Professor Carole Longson

Professor Carole Longson

Professor Carole Longson

“Treatments are very limited, so this new guidance recommends a novel option which is very good news for patients as it makes the red blood cell exchange process faster and less frequent,” she said.

NICE suggested the device could save the NHS in England an estimated £13m each year – around £18,000 per patient – with the size of the saving depending on the patient’s condition and the equipment already owned by the NHS.

John James, chief executive of the Sickle Cell Society, welcomed the NICE guidance on Spectra Optia.

“Many people living with sickle cell would benefit from automated red cell exchange and guidance will enable more and more patients to access this treatment,” he said.

“We anticipate that this guidance will help more hospitals adopt the technology, saving patients from costly and often exhausting travel,” he added.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Augusta Koroma

    A great innovation for blood transfusion for sickle cell disease. NICE is doing a fantastic work with regards to sickle cell disease. "Awareness, Education and Determination is the key to ending the pain cycle
    "Knowledge is Power"

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