Patterns of prescribing hydroxyurea for sickle cell disease patients from a central hospital, Saudi Arabia

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Assem A. Elghazaly *
Adel A. Aljatham
Abdulaziz M. Khan
Rasha M. Elneil
S. Zubair S. Jafar
Salah A. Elwishy
Omsalma E. Ahmed
Aamer M. Bughnah
Mamoun H. Ibrahim
(*) Corresponding Author:
Assem A. Elghazaly |


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited disorders of hemoglobin synthesis. It is prevalent in different parts of the world, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The disease is associated with multiple acute and chronic life-threatening complications. Hydroxyurea (HU) is an effective preventive medication; its use has resulted in decreased morbidity and mortality. However, practice variability, including underutilization of HU, has been reported. No local publication has addressed this issue. The aim of this work is to consider the pattern of HU prescription for SCD patients. This is a retrospective study included patients seen in the outpatient clinics in a central hospital. Cases of medications unavailability or patient refusal to take the drug were not included. A total of 152 patients were included, of them 118 were prescribed HU and 34 were not. In 133 (87.5%) patients, the physician’s decision was appropriate. Inappropriate decisions including both under prescription and, to much lesser extent, over utilization had been demonstrated in 19 (12.5%) cases. Impact of raising the healthcare providers’ awareness and improving compliance with the updated SCD management recommendations and guidelines deserve further studying. In our local experience, although the majority of HU prescriptions were appropriate, both under prescription and to a lesser extent, overutilization was demonstrated.

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