The oral therapy Endari (L-glutamine), developed by Emmaus Life Sciences, will soon be made available to patients with sickle cell disease in the United States military, along with 9.4 million of their beneficiaries, thanks to a new distribution agreement, the company announced.
The agreement is between Emmaus and DMS Pharmaceutical Group (DMS), the main pharmaceutical supplier to the U.S. Department of Defense. DMS is a wholesale pharmaceutical company that provides prescription and over-the-counter medications to all medical facilities in the U.S. military.
“DMS Pharmaceutical is pleased to collaborate with Emmaus on Endari as a therapeutic treatment for our Department of Defense Military Treatment Facilities’ patients afflicted by sickle cell disease,” Sam Lazich, president of DMS, said in a press release. “Our relationship with Emmaus further strengthens our ability to serve our important military customers and patients.”
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic condition in which patients have two copies of the faulty hemoglobin gene — one from each parent. Hemoglobin is the oxygen transporter in red blood cells. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 100,000 Americans are affected by SCD, which is highly prevalent in the African-American population.
Sickle cell anemia is the most common and often the most severe form for SCD. Inadequate oxygen supply due to sickle hemoglobin causes inflammation, episodes of severe pain, and damage to vital organs in patients with SCD. Lower levels of healthy blood cells also result in severe anemia and weakness.
Endari is an FDA-approved oral treatment for sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, for patients 5 and older. Studies have shown that Endari reduced acute complications associated with sickle cell anemia, such as acute chest syndrome. It also decreased the number of hospitalizations due to pain crisis (sudden and severe pain).
“Our new partnership with DMS Pharmaceutical is an exciting step forward as we strive to make Endari more available to patients who need it,” Yutaka Niihara, MD, CEO and founder of Emmaus Life Sciences, said during the announcement. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to ensure that the men and women serving our country, as well as their family members, have access to Endari.”