Breakthroughs in new treatments for lupus may be useless if patients do not have access to innovative therapies as a consequence of their high costs or regulatory restrictions, a point raised the Lupus Foundation of America in a statement published on the organization’s website. The president and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America, Sandra C. Raymond, reinforced the foundation’s position by recently signing a petition advocating for the approval of the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act (PATA) currently being debated in Congress.
The Lupus Foundation of America recognizes a need for broad-ranging treatment options for lupus patients, a need that they believe can be better met through PATA implementation, which was recently sponsored in the House of Representatives by Lois Capps (D-CA) and David B. McKinley (R-WV).
“People with lupus need and deserve a full arsenal of treatments,” stated Raymond. “With many new and innovative drugs for lupus in the drug pipeline, these highly anticipated treatments will mean nothing if people with lupus cannot afford them. The Patients’ Access to Treatments Act (PATA), reintroduced in the House of Representatives, would give thousands of lupus patients access to life-saving treatments by lowering patient out-of-pocket costs for so-called “specialty drugs” in commercial health plans.”
A main component of PATA is to regulate how prescription drugs are covered by private insurance companies. Over the years, several major healthcare companies have adopted a system of specialty tiers to include more expensive drug medications needed by patients with rare diseases, such as lupus. Patients end up paying 22 to 25% of the medication’s cost under the current system, leading to hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket monthly for lupus patients.
“PATA would end the practice of discriminating between medications with a fixed co-pay and specialty drugs by requiring commercial health insurers to impose the same co-payment obligations for specialty drugs as they already do for other medications,” concluded Raymond, who is encouraging patients with lupus to call their members of Congress and express their support for PATA’s passage.