A new analysis has shown that Novartis’ crizanlizumab reduced the number of patients with sickle cell disease experiencing a pain crisis.

According to the post hoc analysis of data from the Phase II SUSTAIN study, published in the American Journal of Hematology, 35.8% of patients treated with crizanlizumab did not experience a vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) compared to 16.9% in the placebo arm.

No new safety concerns emerged, and adverse events attributed to treatment were similar between the crizanlizumab and placebo arms across all subgroups, Novartis said.

The findings are particularly pertinent as VOCs - a painful complication of SCD that can lead to stroke of organ damage - are the key driver for patients seeking medical care in hospitals and are linked with increased morbidity and mortality.

"The unpredictable, intense painful crises that patients with sickle cell disease experience are the hallmark of the disease and the primary cause of hospitalisations in this patient population," said Abdullah Kutlar, director, Sickle Cell Center at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia, and primary author of the SUSTAIN analysis.

"I am encouraged that results from this post hoc analysis of SUSTAIN study data found that crizanlizumab could substantially delay or prevent these crises, which also may mean less organ damage in the long run."