THE FIRST EFFECTIVE treatment for reducing the frequency of the painful crises caused by sickle cell anemia has just been tested and pronounced helpful. This is the finding from a double-blind placebo-controlled study of the use of hydroxyurea in sickle cell disease.
The study was begun by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md, in January 1992 and planned to run until May of this year. However, the results were so compelling that the study was stopped in January, said Claude Lenfant, MD, the institute's director.
Daily administration of hydroxyurea reduced by approximately 50% the frequency of painful episodes and hospital admissions for the condition as well as the acute chest syndrome that is "a life-threatening complication of sickle cell anemia characterized by chest pain, fever, and an abnormal chest X-ray," said Samuel Charache, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of