American College of Rheumatology Urges Policy Reform to Protect Patients with Rheumatology Diseases

In response to the Trump Administration’s drug pricing blueprint, the American College of Rheumatology issued a set of policy principles on drug prices and access to rheumatology treatment.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has released a set of policy principles on prescription drug prices and access to rheumatology treatment, according to a press release.

As a response to the Trump administration’s American Patients First drug pricing blueprint, the principles target federal officials and push for critical access to affordable, high-quality treatment through suggestions for treatment access, transparency, safety and efficiency, and innovation.

Shared decision-making between patients and providers is essential to decrease barriers to treatment access, according to the ACR. High-quality treatments are necessary to prevent disability and early death among patients with rheumatic diseases, but barriers to affordability and access may make it difficult for patients to get the medications they need.

Among the topline principles is a call to reduce and streamline “utilization management” tools used in drug distribution systems, such as step therapy, prior authorization, non-medical switching, and out-of-pocket costs. For example, the ACR noted that policy reforms should eliminate excessive patient cost sharing usually required by formularies’ specialty tiers and prevent Part B services from being subject to prior authorization requirements.

“The ACR supports drug pricing policies that make safe, effective and innovative treatments accessible to our patients at the lowest possible cost,” David Daikh, MD, PhD, President of the ACR, said in the press release. “While several proposals in the American Patients First drug pricing blueprint would bring our health care system closer to that goal, others would make it even more difficult for our patients to access the breakthrough treatments and therapies needed to prevent permanent joint damage, organ damage, and early death.”

Ensuring patient safety is another priority listed in the ACR recommendations, including policies aimed at safe access to Part B treatments in monitored settings. According to the ACR, proposals such as moving Part B treatments to Part D would make necessary Part D drugs less accessible and less safe for patients.

Additionally, the ACR also emphasized expanding innovation in rheumatology therapeutics and improving FDA capacity and manufacturer ability to bring safe, effective biosimilars to market.

The ACR plans to submit detailed comments to the Department of Health and Human Services with their feedback and concerns in the coming weeks.

“These principles are foundational to our ability to care for our patients and help them maintain the quality of life they need and deserve,” Dr Daikh concluded. “We look forward to engaging with the Administration and relevant agencies to further guidances and rules.”

References

American College of Rheumatology Urges HHS to Adopt Drug Policy Principles that Protect Health Care Access for Chronically Ill Americans [news release]. ACR’s website. https://www.rheumatology.org/About-Us/Newsroom/Press-Releases/ID/887/American-College-of-Rheumatology-Urges-HHS-to-Adopt-Drug-Policy-Principles-that-Protect-Health-Care-Access-for-Chronically-Ill-Americans Accessed June 12, 2018.

ACR Principles on Prescription Drug Prices and Access to Treatment. ACR’s website. https://www.rheumatology.org/Portals/0/Files/ACR-Principles-Prescription-Drug-Prices-and-Access-to-Treatment.pdf. Accessed June 12, 2018.