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Preventive Medicines for Sickle Cell Disease: Are They Right for You?

What Are Preventive Medicines?

Preventive medicines help people with sickle cell disease stay well and avoid problems before they start. These medicines include hydroxyurea, crizanlizumab, voxelotor, and L-glutamine.

5 Questions to Ask Your Care Team About Preventive Medicines

If your doctor recommends a preventive medicine, it's a chance to take control of your health. Here are questions to ask your care team as you decide what's best for you:

  1. How can the medicine help me? People with sickle cell disease who take preventive medicines often have less pain and more energy. These medicines can prevent problems from sickle cell disease by helping red blood cells stay round and squishy, move smoothly through the body, and last longer. Ask your doctor about the benefits you can expect.
  2. What’s it like to take the medicine? The medicine may come in a pill, liquid, or another form. Some medicines are taken every day. Others you get once a month. All should be taken long-term and on a regular schedule. Talk with your doctor about which medicine can best fit into your life.
  3. Can there be side effects? Even when a medicine works as it should, some people have unwanted effects, like an upset stomach or headache. Most side effects are mild. Ask your doctor what you can expect and what to do if you have a side effect.
  4. How much does the medicine cost? Sometimes there are no costs. It depends on your health insurance. Ask your care team to help you understand the costs of your medicine options.
  5. How do I decide? Think about which benefits are most important to you and which side effects or risks you most want to avoid. Talk with your care team and people who support you to weigh the pros and cons. Then you can make a decision you can feel good about.

Reviewed by: Aimee K. Hildenbrand, PhD
Date Reviewed: Jun 22, 2023

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