(Yesterday we highlighted a Reuter’s article that proposed that the lack of funding and drug development for ME/CFS constituted a ‘market failure’. Today we hit back on this market failure with a call for a congressional hearing that asks why the FDA is not, in the face of strong Congressional pressure to approve more drugs for chronic illnesses, giving Ampligen – a drug they now state is safe – conditional approval)
The following announcement comes from the FDA Treatment Team, a group of people dedicated to securing FDA approval for Ampligen. For readers who are unfamiliar with Ampligen, it is an immune modulating drug that has been used successfully for many years by ME/CFS specialists to treat severely ill patients. The makers of Ampligen have conducted a number of clinical trials proving the safety and efficacy of Ampligen, but, so far, FDA has not approved it.
The team has drafted a letter requesting a congressional hearing on Ampligen. You can support their effort by sending your own letter (see template below).
The team has provided email addresses on their template letter. In addition, it is recommended that you send the letter to your own representatives as well via their web forms. Representatives always pay attention to letters sent by their constituents. You can find your representatives HERE simply by typing in your zip code.
New Opportunities to Create FDA Action on ME/CFS Treatments
Currently, Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) have spearheaded a bipartisan initiative called “21st Century Cures” to increase the pace of medical breakthroughs. This initiative gives us fertile ground to press Congress and the FDA to provide an environment that attracts drug companies to ME/CFS research and for the FDA to give conditional approval of Ampligen. Remember, if we get one drug across the line, many more will follow.
We are asking you to help us continue to push the FDA to foster and approve treatments for ME/CFS. It is important that ME/CFS stay high on the FDA’s agenda. Please cut and paste the following message and send it to the email addresses below.
~From The FDA Treatment Team – Cort Johnson, Bob Miller, Billie Moore, Pat LaRosa, Dr. Janet Smith, Anita Patton, and Lori Chapo-Kroger
Send your email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject line: FDA fails to approve drug for ME/CFS – Time for a congressional hearing
In the body of the email:
Recently, Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) spearheaded a bipartisan initiative called “21st Century Cures” to increase the pace of medical breakthroughs. This initiative provides opportunities to help speed approval for treatments that affect underserved populations – such as those who are severely ill with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome).
To date, the FDA has failed to approve a drug considered safe for ME/CFS, leaving chronically ill patients to take untested, off-label medications. ME/CFS costs the United States economy approximately $20 billion annually and affects one million Americans. It has left many families in ruins.
The FDA says it will approve drugs with serious adverse side effects that they believe are effective for ME/CFS, but they won’t approve Ampligen, a drug that they acknowledge is safe.
ME/CFS Expert Dr. Charles Lapp, who has treated thousands of ME/CFS patients and has used Ampligen for more than 25 years, said, “Even if Ampligen doesn’t improve a patient, it does no harm.”
The experts have said it works, and the FDA Advisory Committee has said it’s clear that patients are experiencing benefit. More than 700 patients provided testimony at the FDA Advisory Meeting in December 2012 requesting approval of Ampligen, and more than 4,000 signed a petition after FDA denied the approval in February 2013.
In April of 2013 – four months after the FDA denied approval for Ampligen – the FDA admitted they did not have a complete understanding of ME/CFS. We believe that if the FDA had understood the unique needs of ME/CFS patients prior to the Ampligen approval hearing, the drug would have received conditional approval, leading to a functional improvement in many severely ill patients.
The FDA is to be commended for acknowledging the seriousness of ME/CFS. However, more needs to be done. The FDA needs to recognize the special circumstances and desperation of the ME/CFS community and act accordingly by assisting drug companies in bringing their products to market.
A group of patient advocates has demanded a congressional hearing, and I support them. The FDA must live up to its commitment and help those with chronic illnesses. We have a right to treatment; our voices and our experts need to be heard.[your name] [your city and state] [years you have been sick]