(RxWiki News) The National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) recently issued a new recommendation on inhibitor testing for patients with hemophilia A and B.
According to the NHF, hemophilia patients should be tested for inhibitors at least once per year to avoid serious bleeding complications. High-risk patients may need to be tested even more frequently.
Hemophilia is a rare genetic disorder in which the blood doesn't clot properly because it lacks sufficient blood-clotting proteins. The main treatment for hemophilia is called a clotting factor, which is injected into the patient's veins to replace the missing proteins.
While there is currently no cure for hemophilia, most patients can lead normal lives with proper treatment. But complications can still occur.
About 15 to 20 percent of hemophilia patients will develop an antibody — called an inhibitor — to the drug used to treat or prevent bleeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Inhibitors develop when the body’s immune system stops accepting the clotting factor as a normal part of the blood. And developing an inhibitor can be one of the most serious and costly complications of hemophilia.
According to the CDC, treatment costs for patients with inhibitors are on average three to four times higher than those without inhibitors and can exceed $1,000,000 per year.
The NHF guideline was issued in response to the CDC's Hemophilia Inhibitor Research Study (HIRS).
This study found that hemophilia patients of all ages may be at risk for developing an inhibitor and that, unless patients are regularly tested for inhibitors, they could have one and not know it until the inhibitor causes a severe bleeding problem.
The NHF recommends that patients ask their doctors about the risk of inhibitors, how often they should be tested and what they can do to avoid developing one.