FDA approves first therapy to treat patients with rare blood disorder

Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted approval to Reblozyl (luspatercept-aamt) for the treatment of anemia (lack of red blood cells) in adult patients with beta thalassemia who require regular red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. "When patients receive multiple blood transfusions, there is a risk for iron overload, which can affect many organs," said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA's Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Today's approval provides patients with a therapy that, for the first time, will help decrease the number of blood transfusions. This approval is an example of our continued progress for rare diseases and providing important new drugs to patients earlier." Beta thalassemia, also called "Cooley's anemia," is an inherited blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body. In people with beta thalassemia, low levels of hemoglobin lead to a lack of oxygen in many parts of the body and anemia, which can cause pale skin, weakness, fatigue and more serious complications. Supportive treatment for people with beta thalassemia often consists of lifelong regimens of chronic blood transfusions for survival and treatment for iron overload due to the transfusions. People with beta thalassemia are also at an increased risk of developing abnormal blood clots.

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