Monday, February 17, 2014

ASH 2013: Jan Geissler & Giora Sharf Part 2 on Adherence, the High Cost of Cancer Medications, and the Importance of Clear Communication

In the second part of my interviews from ASH 2013 with two smart patient advocates in the CML world, Jan Geissler and Giora Sharf reveal the results of their important study done in conjunction with their non-profit umbrella organization, The CML Advocates Network.

Before I get too far into my analysis of the results, let me first applaud Giora and Jan for doing all the hard work in making this possible.

Not only did they recognize an unmet need, they realized that their opinions would only be respected with valid research backing them up.

Then they had to not only design, develop, and ultimately score, review, interpret, write-up and present the data, they first had to procure the funding, find the doctors willing to help, and have developed over years a strong participating network of patients ready to jump in and help.

As someone in the throes of establishing a new CLL-focused non-profit organization, let me assure you, none of this comes easily. It was earned with hard work and trust.

More news soon on how this nascent disease specific non-profit will benefit anyone touched by CLL in very focused, local, unique and practical ways while not recapitulating what is already being done so well by the LLS and LRF, two great organizations that supply excellent background disease information and much more and also provide high quality large group meetings with top flight reviews of the basics in CLL in their breakout sessions. Here is my report from the last LRF meeting. I was also privileged to be asked to volunteer to speak on self advocacy this past weekend at the LLS Blood Cancer Conference in Los Angeles. I plan to share those slides I developed here and on the LLS web site soon.

Our new non-profit will be working with smaller interactive groups and be strongly focused on the cutting edge of research. More to come. I am so excited. This will make a high difference.

But I digress.

If you haven't seen the first part of the interview or you just want to revisit it, please click here.

If you want to read their fine paper, please click here.

The first few minutes of this section of the ASH 2013 interview identifies some of the high risk markers for skipping our medications.

Later we discuss the issue of the high cost of the medication. Not surprising this is a well recognized risk. Should I eat or take my pills?  For more on this important issue, browse through my blog and take a look at this paper on cost of oral medications and adherence in CML.

Many pharmaceutical companies (see the You & I Access program as an example for ibrutinib) have generous program to help defer the cost. The LLS can be a big help, but properly constructed, well conceived, and revenue neutral oral parity laws (where the percentage of the cost borne by the patient for oral drugs and IV drugs is similar) are not only possible but are desperately needed to avoid all these welcomed but ultimately stopgap measures.

Finally, as Jan says: "Adherence is partnership." The patients, the doctors, and the patient groups getting the word out about the importance of clear communication and understandings.

Ultimately good communication is the most critical and fortunately the most malleable piece of the puzzle.

Here is the video:

Please pardon the abrupt finish. You didn't miss anything but a technical glitch.

More soon from ASH, more on adherence, and more about the new non-profit to help those of us with CLL with better support and communication.

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February 23, 2014 at 3:40 AM  

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