Rare Disease Day is a day of unity for us patients with rare diseases. I can’t speak for you, but I felt very alone and isolated when I found out I had pemphigus vulgaris. Then I found community in the IPPF. It was very comforting to know there were others out there who had gone through what I was living through. Now imagine being with hundreds of others who have a variety of rare diseases.
Although there has been a huge public outcry over the cost of prescription drugs, there has been little public discussion about the need for innovation for patients who don’t yet have an effective therapy. It is estimated that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from a rare disease, and only 5% of rare diseases have a treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition to our general request for NIH funding, I stressed the importance of cutting edge research on rare diseases and emphasized the significance of the Open Act, which incentivizes pharmaceutical companies to make treatments available off-label.
As we shared our stories on behalf of the entire P/P community, I could see that many of the legislators’ offices we visited began to understand the dilemma. However, it was clear this issue would take an effort by the entire P/P community for our voices to be heard.
The purpose of advocating in Washington, DC is to spread awareness and lobby for favorable legislation that affects the entire IPPF community. At Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill 2016, we had 7 advocates from the IPPF community.
In November 2014, I used the chemotherapy drug Rituxan off-label for my rare disease, Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP). The decision was made after careful consideration of all the possible outcomes. I was desperate for relief since ITP causes internal bleeding that can be fatal. This thought stayed in the back of my mind as I watched my platelets drop and my bleeding episodes increase in severity.
On the last day of February millions of people around the world will observe Rare Disease Day. Get involved by visiting the U.S. (www.rarediseaseday.us) or global (www.rarediseaseday.org) Rare Disease Day website before February 29 to learn about events in your area and what you can do.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to communicate with their elected officials. So you might be asking yourself, “Does my Congressional Representative really care what I think”? Well, the answer is YES!