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Croat Med J. 2003 Oct;44(5):606-9.

Management of Gaucher disease in a post-communist transitional health care system: Croatian experience.

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Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, Zagreb University Hospital Center, Kispatićeva 12, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.



To evaluate the feasibility of financing the treatment of Gaucher disease with recombinant human imiglucerase in the Croatian health care system.


Treatment with enzyme replacement therapy of 5 patients with Gaucher disease was started on January 2001. In 4 patients the typical signs of Gaucher disease (organomegaly, bone changes, anemia, and thrombocytopenia) were documented at the time of diagnosis. One patient received bone marrow stem cell transplant as treatment for acute myeloid leukemia from a HLA-matching sibling with Gaucher disease. All patients underwent therapy with imiglucerase (Cerezyme) infusion every 14 days. The outcome and actual cost of the treatment were followed during 12 months.


After 3 months of therapy, hemoglobin rose above low normal range in 2 patients. After 6 months, 3 patients had platelet count above 100x10(9)/L, and bone pain crises completely disappeared in patients with severe bone involvement. After 12 months, normal blood counts were restored in all patients. At the same time point, bone destruction remained unchanged in 3 patients and showed marked improvement in one. In agreement with the Ministry of Health, the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance restructured its funds and established a special "Fund for expensive drugs." This fund covers the treatment costs for patients with Gaucher disease (approximately 150,000 per patient per year) as well as the cost of treatment for patients with Fabry disease, AIDS, adenosine deaminase deficiency, multiple sclerosis, chronic myeloid leukemia, juvenile arthritis, and ovarian cancer.


Collaboration of the institutions in a post-communist transition health care system can provide an effective model for financing expensive treatment for patients with rare diseases in a resource-poor health system.

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