New treatment for hemophilia launched in India

November 18th, 2009 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) A new genetically engineered treatment for hemophilia, a dreaded disease where blood doesn’t clot, was launched here Wednesday by a private pharmaceutical company.
Unlike other procedures, this treatment won’t require donor blood for transfusion.

The treatment based on ‘Recombinate’, a genetically engineered and non-plasma derived protein factor VIII (the deficiency of which causes the disease) was launched by pharmaceutical company Baxtar.

This is the first time such a treatment has been launched in the country, where an estimated 100,000 people are affected, company officials said.

Speaking at the launch, Baxter India’ s business unit director Shubhi Khurana said: “Hemophilia, a disease when blood does not clot during injuries and causes severe bleeding has been a major health concern in India. This condition is caused because of the absence of Factor VIII in blood.”

In India treatment so far has been based on plasma (liquid component of blood) and its derived protein factors. Thus human blood donation was essential for treatment of hemophilia like any other transfusion where probability other transmitted diseases increases.

“The probability of spreading blood borne vectors like HIV, Hepatitis B and C from the donor to the receiver was high,” said Alok Srivastava, the head of the hematology department at Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore.

He added that only 10 percent of the affected patients were diagnosed at present and this number was growing.

“The demand for the protein factors are increasing with each passing day. Thus the introduction of Recombinate would go a long way,” Srivastava said.

Almost 10 to 14 percent of those with hemophilia are also infected by Hepatitis B and 24 to 30 percent infected by Hepatitis C, according to the July 2009 issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research.

The Recombinate treatment is in use in 41 other countries since it was first launched in 1992.

Vijay Kaul of the Society for Hemophilia Care, who also suffers from the condition, says that almost 20 percent of the total hemophiliacs in the world are Indians.

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