Patients Rising Now supports regulatory reforms that promote patient access, accelerate medical innovation and streamline the health care system. The proposed Philadelphia City Ordinance fails all three of these essential patient priorities. It potentially denies access to medical innovation and creates an undue burden on patients by potentially increasing out of pocket costs for treatments.
The labeled intent of the ordinance is amending Title 6 of The Philadelphia "Health Code" with a new chapter dedicated to Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing Practices. On its face, this is not an issue where Patients Rising Now would normally engage.
However, in Section 6-1203(c) we have some concerns on how this specific regulation could impact some Philadelphia patients: This exemption shall not include the provision of coupons for the purchase of any Controlled substance, at no cost or reduced cost, to health care practitioners for distribution to patients. Such coupons are prohibited gifts under this § 6-1203.
This proposed rule first and foremost places a barrier to access for patients who have a critical need for the discounts provided by manufacturers coupons, most of which provide copay support for the latest medical innovation within a specific class. These coupons are being inaccurately labeled in the ordinance as "gifts to health care practitioners" when in reality these are resources that rightfully belong to the patients who need them. In addition, the ordinance would put a divide between the doctor-patient relationship by essentially giving the City of Philadelphia the final say on any care plan using a coupon that falls within the stated parameters.
We fully endorse regulatory equity of the entire health care supply chain, however, we do not see how this will do anything to address the problem, and more likely will diminish the quality of life for some Philadelphia patients in need of access to the right treatment at the right time.
With 1217 opioid-related deaths in 2017, the city of Philadelphia has an opioid epidemic in need of attention and Patients Rising Now stands ready to support responsible guidelines and regulations that will hopefully begin to reverse this trend. However, given the fact that 846 of them are related to one controlled substance, fentanyl, we believe the council should explore more targeted ways to address the issue by working with all stakeholders on responsible solutions.
Patients Rising has published many patient stories about the impact of over-regulation on pain patients. Patients like Mark can attest, it is possible to regulate against what is best for patients who are stable on a current treatment, impacting not only their quality of life but their livelihood. We encourage the Philadelphia City Council to reconsider this ordinance and make adjustments that support Philadelphia's entire patient community.