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Patients petition Blue House to reimburse effective, expensive drugs
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2018.01.22 15:17
  • Updated 2018.01.26 15:41
  • comments 0

Around 30 online petitions sent to the Blue House since last year are calling for insurance coverage of life-saving or high-cost drugs, including that for eczema treatment Dupixent (dupilumab).

Petitions for the potential breakthrough eczema drug call for the insurance coverage of the therapy when it enters the domestic market later this year.

“Dupixent, the new drug to be launched in the latter half of 2018, showed remarkable results in atopy clinical trials. Because it is a new drug, however, it will not be reimbursed immediately, causing economic burden. Atopy patients live each day in pain. Please let us treat atopy with at least a low price for the therapy,” the petition reads.

Patients are calling for the reimbursement of high-cost, life-saving drugs to Blue House through about 30 online petitions.

Since its posting on Dec. 31, the petition has gathered over 450 signatures. Comments under the appeal read, “I have been suffering from severe atopy and social phobia that blocked me from even going to the military for 10 years,” and “It is difficult to ignore the social loss felt by atopy patients that arise from avoiding social activities due to conditions such as depression.”

The U.S. FDA approved Dupixent in March last year to treat moderate to severe eczema, a skin condition characterized by red, scaly and crusted bumps, which are often itchy. Other treatments, such as corticosteroid creams and over-the-counter drugs, do little to ease the condition entirely.

Related : Sanofi, Regeneron win FDA approval for new eczema injection

Dupixent, co-developed by Regeneron and Sanofi, proved notable clinical efficacy in trials for moderate-to-severe eczema for adults. The injectable therapy, considered to be a new, powerful medication for the skin disease, drew fire for its astronomical list price of $37,000 in the U.S.

Although the drug is priced somewhat lower than many other commonly used biologic drugs, the therapy will remain out of reach for many patients living with the condition, analysts say.

Cancer patients also actively petitioned the Blue House website to expand or add coverage for anticancer drugs, such as Ibrance and Tagrisso.

In November, a patient with metastasized breast cancer explained how individuals had to pay a burdensome amount for Pfizer’s Ibrance because they did not meet the “limited” coverage conditions. The petition, which calls for coverage for all patients, currently holds a total of 915 signatures.

The Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) granted coverage for Ibrance on Nov. 6 as a combination therapy with fulvestrant in post-menopausal women whose disease progressed after endocrine therapy or a letrozole combination treatment as primary endocrine therapy.

Related : Pfizer’s breast cancer therapy gains insurance coverage

Ibrance (palbociclib) is the first selective inhibitor of the cyclin-dependent kinases CDK4 and CDK6 approved to treat ER-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer.

From August to November of last year, citizens also continually petitioned for the reimbursement of AstraZeneca’s lung cancer therapy Tagrisso. More than 700 people signed a total of five online petitions, according to the site.

Following protests both online and offline, HIRA granted coverage for Tagrisso on Dec. 5 after dragging its feet, causing criticism among cancer patients. The coverage applies to patients with T790M mutation-positive locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that progressed despite previous treatment with EGFR-TKI 4-targeted therapy.

Related : Lung cancer therapy Tagrisso’s price cut by 96%

But even after the HIRA insured the drug, an additional 13 online petitions demanded an extension of insurance coverage length that lasted more than one month.

Other patients also expressed their frustrations with the government policy to reimburse immunotherapies and that for non-small cell lung cancer therapies as well as off-label prescriptions, on the petition page.


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