Statement on the approval of crizanlizumab for sickle cell disorder

6 October 2021

NHS Blood and Transplant welcomes the approval of crizanlizumab by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).  

We hope this new treatment is a positive step forward in improving the care of people with sickle cell disorders. 

O neg bloodDespite this promising new treatment, it is vital that people living with sickle cell disorders get regular blood transfusions and red cell exchanges - thanks to blood donors.  

Sickle cell is the fastest growing genetic disorder in the UK, affecting 15,000 people with around 300 babies born with the blood disorder each year.  

This highlights the continuing and growing need for more Black blood donors to provide the ethnically matched blood needed to save lives.  

People who are Black African, Black Caribbean and of Black mixed ethnicity are more likely to have the rare blood sub-group Ro that many Black sickle cell patients need. 

There has been a 29% increase in Black blood donors in recent years, but many more are still needed to help the NHS provide the life-saving transfusions that people with sickle cell desperately need.  

That’s why NHS Blood and Transplant have stepped up efforts to encourage new Black blood donors and aim to recruit 16,000 new donors from the Black and mixed Black communities in the year 2021/22.  

Each month 1,300 Black donors are needed to give blood to provide life-saving transfusions to sickle cell patients, as well as for use in emergencies, childbirth, during surgery, in cancer treatments and for us in other medical conditions.  

Dr Farrukh Shah, consultant haematologist and Medical Director for Transfusion at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We welcome the decision to approve crizanlizumab for use in patients with Sickle cell disorders suffering from frequent painful crises. 

“Sickle cell continues to be the fastest growing blood disorder in the UK and mostly affects Black people. 

“We hope this advance will have a major impact on reduction of painful episodes and improve the quality of life for patients suffering from sickle cell disorders and while it is a positive step, it does not change the fast-increasing need for ethnically matched blood for sickle cell patients in England.  

“We need 16,000 more Black people to give blood this year and would urge anyone who is eligible to do something amazing and give blood.”  

Become a blood donor. You can register today and book and appointment by registering online, downloading the GiveBloodNHS app or calling 0300 123 23 23. 

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