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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with Krystal Preston, PharmD, we discuss disparities in treating sickle cell disease before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MD Newsline:

What disparities in treating sickle cell disease have you observed as a clinical pharmacist?

Krystal Preston, PharmD:

“As a pharmacist as well as a patient living with sickle cell disease, I’ve noticed a number of care disparities, including patients with sickle cell disease being labeled as drug-seeking, being ignored, having their pain minimized, having minimal access to proper treatment, not having a medical team who is properly trained in treating sickle cell disease, and not receiving the proper support outside of the hospital setting, such as proper maintenance medications, support groups, and counseling services.”


MD Newsline:

Do you think the disparities in treating sickle cell disease have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Krystal Preston, PharmD:

“I believe with access to care being the major issue in this setting, the disparity probably has widened a bit, seeing as hospital emergency departments are full due to the priority being treating COVID-19 patients. Another priority, of course, is treating trauma patients, such as those who fall victim to gun violence in metropolitan cities across the country, including Chicago.

We also have to consider factors such as hospital staff burnout and the fact that there aren’t many sickle cell specialty clinics to begin with. For example, I believe there are only two hospital systems within Illinois that offer a specialized sickle cell clinic to both children and adult patients: the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago.”

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Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

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