Mast Therapeutics (MSTX) Announces Joining Sickle Cell Disease Coalition

September 6, 2016 8:07 AM EDT

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Mast Therapeutics, Inc. (NYSE: MSTX) announced that it is joining other industry leaders, patient advocacy groups, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and foundations in a collective effort to improve sickle cell disease (SCD) care, early diagnosis, treatment, and research both in the United States and globally. The newly formed Sickle Cell Disease Coalition is spearheaded by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and aspires to change the status quo of SCD treatment and awareness.

SCD is an inherited, lifelong disorder characterized by red blood cells that become rigid and sickle-shaped, which causes them to stick together and block the flow of oxygen to the body, leading to intense pain and other serious issues such as stroke, organ failure, and death. SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans and millions worldwide. It is a growing health problem and it is estimated that by 2050 the number of people with SCD will increase by 30 percent globally. Over the last century, several important discoveries have led to improved diagnosis and treatments, but people with the disease still have severe complications and shorter life expectancy. Many are unable to access the care they need and live with pain and disability due to a lack of effective treatment options.

Today, at a press conference and formal launch of the Coalition at the Knight Conference Center of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the Coalition will announce a call to action on SCD and the American Society of Hematology and several members of the Coalition will issue a new report, State of Sickle Cell Disease: 2016, which outlines unmet needs in four priority areas: Access to care, training and professional education, research and clinical trials, and global health. The report shows that significant improvements are needed across all areas and highlights strategies for change.

"Around the world, people with sickle cell disease face unique challenges – from early death and childhood stroke in countries without early screening programs to lifetimes of mental and physical disability due to lack of access to appropriate care in the United States. We can no longer accept that this is the status quo," said Charles S. Abrams, M.D., President of the American Society of Hematology, the organization spearheading the Coalition. "The Sickle Cell Disease Coalition is bringing together a number of groups that care about this disease to take advantage of the opportunities we have for change."

"We are proud to join ASH and other organizations to support the Coalition's ultimate objective of improving outcomes for individuals with sickle cell disease," stated Brian M. Culley, Chief Executive Officer of Mast Therapeutics. "At Mast, we are working to improve outcomes for sickle cell patients through the development of our investigational new drug vepoloxamer. We are hopeful Mast will be able to provide the first approved medication for intervention in vaso-occlusive crisis, a debilitating and recurrent condition for sickle cell patients that can lead to organ damage and early death," continued Mr. Culley. "We believe that the Coalition will be able to increase awareness of this devastating disease and create more opportunity for changes that can improve care and treatment of individuals living with sickle cell disease."

The Coalition will provide a platform to encourage stakeholders to work together to develop and implement important projects and activities that will ultimately help the SCD community and improve outcomes for individuals with the disease. For more information on the Coalition and its mission, visit www.scdcoalition.org.



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