Sickle cell disease (SCD) in America

2023 Q2 Rx Newsletter

May 15, 2023

According to the CDC, 100,000 Americans are suffering from Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). 

What is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)?

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders, which results in a lack of red blood cells. Infection, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and other severe consequences including discomfort are all possible side effects.1

The risks of SCD are not equal among all populations, unfortunately there is a significantly higher risk among certain minorities due to genetic heritage.

  • “SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births.” 2
  • “SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.” 2

Due to the variety of types of SCD, there are a range of complications that can result from SCD. Including, but not limited to:

  • Acute Chest Syndrome, Anemia, Blood Clots, Fever, Infection, Kidney Problems, Organ Damage Pulmonary Hypertension, and Stroke.

Treatments, Cures, and Costs

As of 2022, researchers concluded that “privately insured individuals with SCD spend approximately $1.7 million on disease related expenses over their lifetime.”3

  • This figure only takes into consideration out-of-pocket costs of medical care. When factoring in premiums and total plan paid amounts the numbers would be dramatically higher.

Currently, SCD can only be cured via bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplants which are not without their own risks.

  • While there are a multitude of drugs to treat the symptoms of SCD, none are curative at this moment.
  • However, with the explosion of gene therapies there are promising new candidates for curing SCD. They are, however, expected to carry significant price tags.
    • A variety of organizations and companies are already working on SCD cures such as UCLA, Bluebird Bio, and Crispr Therapeutics.4

As the U.S. population continues to age and live longer than prior generations, the amount of people living with SCD will continue to rise. As such, SCD will continue to garner attention and efforts towards curative therapies. However, with almost all revolutionary therapies currently, the price tag might be equally astronomical.

If you have questions about how the ongoing rise in those with SCD may or may not affect you and your business, contact our pharmacy practice.


  1. “What is Sickle Cell Disease” Center for Disease Control, accessed May 2, 2023,
  2. “Data & Statistics on Sickle Cell Disease” Center for Disease Control, accessed May 2, 2023,
  3. “The Cost of Living with Sickle Cell Disease” American Society of Hematology accessed May 2, 2023,
  4. “A Gene Therapy Cure for Sickle Cell is on the Horizon” WIRED accessed May 2, 2023,