Sickle cell persists, with no new treatments

Data: Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Almost 9 out of 10 hospitalizations for sickle cell disease are for black patients, and most of those patients are younger than 35, new federal data show. Three-quarters of sickle cell patients, who often experience severe pain and racial discrimination, also have government insurance.

The big picture: New treatments for sickle cell have been sparse, despite investments in other rare diseases. But Global Blood Therapeutics hopes to roll out a pill next year, pending federal approval, and Bluebird Bio is aiming to get approval for a sickle cell gene therapy by 2022.