On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the fight for accessible and affordable therapies for the 60 million Americans with asthma and allergies. They note how such patients with lung conditions have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
They explain how H.R. 3, proposed federal legislation to let Congress negotiate medication costs with Medicare, threatens drug innovation, hurting the patients with rare and chronic diseases whom Patients Rising represents. Bob argues that to the extent this legislation saves the healthcare system money, it does so off the backs of denying treatments to sick and vulnerable patients. He highlights how this legislation is just another example of the sick subsidizing the healthy.
Bob points out how there is no guarantee that insurance companies would pass along potential savings from H.R. 3 to patients; they certainly haven’t reduced premiums in the last few years even though the net price of prescription medications has fallen. Finally, he indicates how H.R. 3 would introduce step therapy, which would exclude some patients from the specialty medications they need to maintain their livelihoods.
Terry interviews Tonya Winders, president and CEO of the Allergy and Asthma Network, who discusses the hurdles that remain for this patient population, including poor access to primary care providers and high out-of-pocket costs. She explains just how complicated it is for ordinary patients to access care.
Tonya laments the latest ICER review of asthma medications, the sixth review of such drugs in the past five years. If you follow the money, she points out, people will realize that ICER is simply an outfit designed to reduce payer responsibility. She concludes by noting that patient advocates must bolster their perspectives with emotion, evidence, and economics to be effective.
Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews patient and entrepreneur Evan Edwards about his journey to create a revolutionary new epinephrine injector called the AUVI-Q. He tells his story of suffering from severe allergies and explains how the AUVI-Q overcomes the biggest problems associated with existing epi injectors, namely their size, safety, and ease of use. He notes how patients struggle to carry an EpiPen with them at all times, but his product, which is the size of a credit card and the width of a cell phone, is much more manageable. He tells the story of how the product’s voice prompts helped save the life of one patient suffering from a severe allergic reaction.