Droxia Donation Brings Needed Treatment to Children in Angola

Bristol-Myers Squibb is teaming up with the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative to provide treatment for children with sickle cell disease in Angola. This new five-year demonstration program is intended to build understanding of the effectiveness of treating children in resource-limited settings and to also understand the cost benefits to the healthcare systems. The program will provide thousands of Angolan children suffering from the life-threatening disease regular access to Droxia® (hydroxyurea), which is indicated to reduce the frequency of painful crises and the need for blood transfusions in patients with sickle cell anemia with recurrent moderate to severe painful crises.

dsc_5948John Damonti, vice president of Corporate Philanthropy at Bristol-Myers Squibb, recognized the need to address this debilitating disease. “We’ve made tremendous progress in treating children with HIV over the past 14 years, in partnership with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, through our HIV Children’s Centres of Excellence and national treatment programs in five African Countries,” says Damonti. “But on visits to Africa, I was overwhelmed by the children suffering from sickle cell disease who weren’t under any treatment. For these children, life is often painful and painfully short.”

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder in which red blood cells become irregularly shaped. These sickle-shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body, resulting in painful episodes, serious infections, chronic anemia, damage to body organs and stroke, among other complications.

Angola has one of the world’s highest rates of the genetic blood condition with up to 10,000 babies born with the disease each year. By some estimates, up to 50 percent of these children die before five years of age.

Bristol-Myers Squibb will donate Droxia for the treatment of 4,100 children over five years. The program will launch in Luanda and Cabinda, where the goal is to put 1,200 infants and children on treatment over two years. After this pilot period, the program will expand to additional sites where thousands more children will get the treatment. In 2015, Bristol-Myers Squibb made an initial donation of Droxia to the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative.

The Angola Sickle Cell Initiative (ASCI) is a public-private partnership of the Angola Ministry of Health, the Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI), Texas Children’s Hospital and Chevron. The ASCI will provide medical care and management of the drug to children in the treatment program. The Angolan Ministry of Health has committed to the continued treatment of all the children on hydroxyurea when they reach 10 years old. The health-focused relief and development organization Americares also is a key partner, shipping the drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb to Angola.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb is providing desperately needed treatment to children in Angola,” says Damonti. “Our goal is to prove that it is possible to treat these children effectively and in large numbers so that governments and international funders will expand access to treatment in the future.”