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Seven Million Americans with Inflammatory Rheumatic Diseases in Jeopardy of Losing Access to Needed Medications

ATLANTA – Patients with chronic, disabling, and life threatening conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and lupus are in jeopardy of losing access to critical  medications called biologics. Some health insurance companies are now placing biologic drugs into "specialty tiers" that require patients to pay 20 to 50 percent of drug costs, amounting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs each month for a single medication. This practice goes against the basic premise of insurance and is causing many patients to underutilize necessary treatment or go without treatment entirely.

AMERICAN COLLEGE OF RHEUMATOLOGY SUPPORTS REINTRODUCED LEGISLATION

ATLANTA – Patients with chronic, disabling, and life threatening conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and lupus are in jeopardy of losing access to critical  medications called biologics. Some health insurance companies are now placing biologic drugs into "specialty tiers" that require patients to pay 20 to 50 percent of drug costs, amounting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs each month for a single medication. This practice goes against the basic premise of insurance and is causing many patients to underutilize necessary treatment or go without treatment entirely.

The Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2013 (H.R. 460) would limit cost-sharing requirements for medications placed in a specialty tier. The bipartisan legislation is being reintroduced by Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and would make innovative and necessary medications more accessible by reducing excessive out-of-pocket expenses.

“Biologics are essential tools used to fight the progression of rheumatic disease and prevent disability,” says Audrey Uknis, MD, American College of Rheumatology president and professor at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Penn. “The ACR is encouraged that Reps. McKinley and Capps have reintroduced this important bill and continue to advocate that patients with chronic illnesses should have access to live-saving treatments.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inflammatory rheumatic diseases with arthritis, are the most common cause of disability in the United States. Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis and the number is expected to rise to 67 million in 2030. Many patients are prescribed biologics or specialty drugs to help treat arthritis and other serious health conditions. Moreover, studies have revealed that patients with rheumatic disease that are treated early with biologics experience lower disease progression and disease remission (little to no disease symptoms).

The Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2013 is supported by the Coalition for Accessible Treatments. The ACR is one of 18 member organizations that have joined the coalition. The Coalition for Accessible Treatments encourages patients and physicians to ask lawmakers to support and cosponsor the Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2013 (H.R.460).  Please contact your lawmaker by visitingwww.rheumatology.org/advocacy/actioncenter.asp.

About the American College of Rheumatology
Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., the American College of Rheumatology is an international professional medical society that represents more than 9,000 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. Rheumatologists are internists or pediatricians who are qualified by training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. Over 50 million Americans — including nearly 300,000 children — suffer from the painful, disabling and sometimes fatal effects of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. The ACR's mission is to advance rheumatology. Learn more by visiting www.rheumatology.org or follow ACR on Twitter at twitter.com/acrheum.

The Coalition for Accessible Treatments: American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, American College of Rheumatology, Arthritis Foundation, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, Colon Cancer Alliance, Hemophilia Federation of America, Immune Deficiency Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lupus Foundation of America, National Hemophilia Foundation, National Psoriasis Foundation, Patient Services Incorporated, Spondylitis Association of America, The Alliance for Patient Advocacy, and US Hereditary Angioedema Association.Additional Supporters of the Patients' Access to Treatments Act: American Society of Clinical Oncology, COPD Foundation, National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation.