Sirisena settles KTH Thalassemia drug issue

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The drug issue, that plagued patients at the Thalassemia Unit of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, was settled during a visit by Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena on Monday (28). The Health Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday (29) that parents with Thalassemic children had complained of allergic reactions in their children to the drug ‘Talifer’ which is being administered to them at present.

Over two years ago the Ministry switched from administering Desferrioxamine to Talifer, he said. However the new drug, Talifer causes allergies in some children resulting in itching and severe body pain and several other complications. Parents urged the Minister to resume supplying Desferrioxamine.

The spokesman said Minister Sirisena had been informed by doctors of the Unit that a third of the patients in the Unit showed allergic reactions to Talifer. He instructed the Medical Supplies Division to issue Desferrioxamine to those who needed it.

The spokesman said there were 840 patients receiving treatment from the Thalassemia Unit of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital. There are over two thousand Thalassemia patients in Sri Lanka while a majority of them are from the Kurunegala District. When queried as to the geographic reason, he said that it was still in the process of being identified.

He said that Thalassemia was blood disease which was genetic. The spokesman advised couples to have their blood tested before marriage to ensure that they are not carriers of the gene. Children born of such parents also inherit the disease. Not only does it cause pain of mind but treatment too is costly, the spokesman added.

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