High-Cost and High-Demand: New ASH Drug Access Web Page Provides Resources for Clinicians and Patients

Hematologic drugs are expensive and often available only in specialty tiers of prescription drug plans – presenting several barriers to access. To help ensure patient access to safe and effective hematologic drugs, ASH recently launched a Drug Resources Web page (hematology.org/Clinicians/Drugs).

The Web page provides a consolidated list of resources to keep physicians informed of newly approved therapies, safety and prescription matters, shortages of critical hematologic drugs, and ways to access high-cost hematologic drugs for patients. Read on to learn more about the program and how clinicians can utilize this resource in their own practices.

High-Cost Hematologic Drug Access

In all areas of medicine, high drug prices are a major issue facing patients, but the cost of treatment is particularly burdensome for patients with hematologic conditions such as leukemia, lymphoma, and hemophilia.

After being notified of the problem of high-cost drugs by the Committee on Practice, ASH staff reached out to the practice community to learn about the impact of drug costs on patient care. The findings were presented at the Executive Committee 2014 May Retreat, and the result of these discussions was the development of an ASH high-cost hematologic drug access Web page.

To help overcome some of the financial barriers to access, ASH has developed several resources, including lists of patient access programs for specific drugs and template appeal letters for clinicians to send on behalf of their patients. With the page, the Society hopes to help practices minimize the amount of time and resources spent finding assistance programs for treatments, while also getting patients their medications more efficiently. The site has been well trafficked since launching, and ASH is always looking for recommendations to improve and enhance the available resources.

The Web page includes:

  • Access Programs for Specific Drugs: Specialty hematologic drug treatments are often more expensive than standard medications. To help patients with hematologic conditions access these needed drugs, certain drug manufacturers and private foundations operate patient assistance programs that alleviate high copays and coinsurance for brand-name drugs. For a full list of the drugs that have patient assistance programs available, visit hematology.org/Clinicians/Drugs/Programs.
  • Appeal Letters: If you believe your patient would benefit from a specialty tier drug that is not covered under their insurance, use these template letters of appeal to contact insurance providers.
  • ASH Consult-a-Colleague Program: This program pairs inquiring physicians with peers in the field who can answer questions about an array of treatment issues. Visit hematology. org/Consult to learn more.
  • Links to ASH Advocacy Campaigns: Throughout the year, ASH urges its members to contact their elected officials in support of legislation that impacts drug access issues, such as oral cancer chemotherapy parity. Visit hematology.org/Advocacy to contact Congress on important matters such as drug pricing issues.

Hematologic Drug Shortage Information

With hematologic drugs in great demand, ASH continues to work with Congress, federal agencies, and other stakeholders to give clinicians up-to-date information on drug shortages. Visit hematology.org/Clinicians/Drugs/Shortages to review current and recently resolved hematologic drug shortages. Also, ASH actively participates in discussions with Congress and the FDA regarding drug shortages and drug manufacturing. Read a detailed history of ASH’s comments to Congress and the FDA online. Again, if you have a question regarding a patient who requires a drug that is in short supply, please utilize the Consult-a-Colleague program for advice on alternative treatment options.

FDA Alerts

As a service to its members, ASH collaborates with the FDA to provide information about newly approved therapies and other important FDA actions, including updated safety information and new prescribing information for patients.

This partnership began after several members of the Committee on Practice expressed problems that their practices were having with frequent shortages of hematology and oncology drugs. ASH stressed the need for up-to-date information on shortages, and the FDA has responded with an enhanced drug shortage database, available online, that sends out advanced alerts about shortages.

ASH staff monitors these daily alerts to maintain a running list of hematologic drug shortages on its website – with links to the FDA pages for each shortage. ASH also receives shortage notices from practitioners and forwards them along to the FDA for investigation.

With this partnership, the agency also informs hematologists and professionals in hematology-related fields of recent approvals in a timely manner. In providing this information, ASH does not endorse any product or therapy and does not take any position on the safety or efficacy of the product or therapy described.