Medical insurance now covers rare muscle disease

Cai Wenjun
Spinal muscular atrophy is a chronic condition that can lead to problems in the bone, digestive, and respiratory systems.
Cai Wenjun

Local medical professionals and parents of children with spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a rare neuromuscular disorder that has a major impact on quality of life, welcomed the news that a medication for the condition had been covered by China's government-run health-care system.

As a result, more families will be able to afford the medication.

SMA is a chronic condition that can lead to problems in the bone, digestive, and respiratory systems.

One in every 10,000 newborns experiences this. There are roughly 30,000 SMA patients in the country, and about 1,000 new patients are born each year.

According to medical experts, children with serious conditions die before the age of 2 if they do not receive proper care, and over 80 percent of children begin to show symptoms within 18 months.

Patients, who first experience the issue as teenagers or adults, may have symptoms that are similar to those of other neuromuscular diseases. It usually takes a long time for the correct diagnosis.

People experience complex spinal deformities, which significantly reduce their quality of life.

Due to a lack of awareness about the disease, SMA patients typically experience a delayed diagnosis.

The small patient population, high development costs for new drugs, and limited treatment options prevent people from benefiting from good care. According to specialists, patients and families longed for medical insurance coverage for practical and convenient SMA medications.

Dr Wang Yi from Children's Hospital of Fudan University said, "We are happy to hear that Evrysdi, the first oral drug for SMA that was approved in China in 2021, is covered by the government-run medical insurance, which can greatly reduce the financial burden for patients and their families and improve the current clinical treatment plans."

"It can also advance the development and refinement of SMA diagnosis and treatment, as well as China's overall illness management."

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