I wanted to know what this means for the pemphigus & pemphigoid community, so I spoke to one of the authors on this study, Dr. Aimee S. Payne, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Payne is an Albert M. Kligman Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. I asked Dr. Payne what does orphan drug status for veltuzumab mean for pemphigus vulgaris patient right now. She said, “Although there is no immediate effect on pemphigus therapy right now, the orphan drug designation is an important first step toward FDA approval. It helps to encourage the development of treatments for rare diseases such as pemphigus.” More specifically, I asked if she could elaborate on what this means for pemphigus vulgaris patients in the future. Dr. Payne replied, “We are currently working with the company to design a clinical trial of subcutaneous veltuzumab in pemphigus.” An advantage of subcutaneous dosing is it is more convenient, and requires a shorter post-injection observation time (30-60 minutes) opposed to intravenous dosing that can take several hours to complete. While not immediate, Dr. Payne is hopeful veltuzumab testing could extend to other pemphigus and pemphigoid patients (i.e. PF, BP, MMP, OCP, PNP, etc.)saying, “Veltuzumab may eventually be tested in patients with other autoimmune blistering diseases in the future.” To read the study abstract visit http://pemphig of a discussion during our 2014 Patient Conference in Chicago. There, a panel of expert patients answered questions from the audience on different aspects of P/P. The discussion was incredibly informative. We decided to return to it for our first call in May. June’s call focused on rituximab (Rituxan®/MabThera®) and featured special guest panelist, dermatologist, and a major influencer behind the founding of the IPPF, Dr. Grant Anhalt. Dr. Anhalt himmense experience in treating P/P patients with rituximab, and was able to provide a lot of insight on the treatment. MAB member Dr. Neil Korman, also a dermatologist, was featured in July’s call, which was a general Q&A session. Dr. Korman has been treating P/P for years and is a good friend of the IPPF. He was able to provide care tips and advice to those able to ask questions. A huge topic we get questions on regularly is oral pemphigus and pemphigoid. For example,
“What kind of topicals are used for mouth lesions?” “Can I still brush my teeth?” “Can I have dental implants?” Our August call focused on oral care and featured professor and periodontist, Dr. Terry Rees. September’s call focused on another hot topic here at the IPPF: IVIG. MAB member Dr. Sergei Grando is a dermatologist practicing in Irvine, CA, who has massive experience in treating P/P patients with this infusion therapy. In October we did another patient panel of expert to answer questions. Peer Health Coach Marc Yale and IPPF founder Janet Segall joined us on the call. Dr. Susan Cohen Byrne, a PV patient and psychotherapist out of Davis, CA, was on our November call discussing the mind/body connection. She focused on managing mental health while combating a rare disease. If you were unable to participate in the previous calls and would like to listen to the call recordings or read through the call transcripts, you can go to pemphigus.org/ peer-support/town-hall-series/. If you want to learn more about the series, or have any questions, please contact Noelle Madsen at email@example.com. Noelle Madsen is the IPPF Patient Services Coordinator and lives in Sacramento, CA. She is dedicated to providingsupport and education to those affected by P/P. She is a new contributor to the Quarterly and can be reached at noelle@ pemphigus.org Q: What is one of your biggest accomplishments?
A: We were successful in passing legislation which directed the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase access to accelerated approval pathways for rare diseases. [Author’s note: Accelerated approval can bring downthe cost and time of the drug development process allowing for less-stringent criteria (also known as a surrogate endpoint) when determining whether a drug has passed a clinical trial.]
Q: What are the foundation’s future aspirations?
: A primary aspiration is to create a market incentive to repurpose major market drugs for rare diseases. Companies currently do not have an incentive to develop their current drugs in major diseases for rare diseases. Companies can be incented with market exclusit.
Q: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for rare disease community?
A: Thirty million Americans are affected with rare diseases, but the advocacy community is less than one million strong. There is potential to grow the advocacy community. FDA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget cuts are significant challenges.
Q: How can organizations and individuals get involved with your foundation?
A: We recently launched the Community Congress, which brings together industry and patient organizations. Additionally, organizations can endorse the CureTheProcess campaign (www.curetheprocess. org). We rely on our patient organization partners to reach out to their members to contact congress. Individuals can also get involved in the Rare Disease Legislative Advocates program (e.g., patients and parents). Badri Rengarajan, MD, is President of the IPPF Board of Directors and lives in northern California. .