According to a story from the website of Oregon rep Earl Blumenauer, Blumenauer (D-OR) along with fellow congressmen George Holding (R-NC) and G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) have introduced a bill that is intended to aid Medicare patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). The primary goal of the bill is to improve treatment access for patients.
About Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a disorder which is most characterized by inflammation of the peripheral nervous system. It is closely related to Guillain-Barré syndrome, and in effect is a long-term, chronic form of that disease. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy body tissue by mistake. Symptoms of the disorder include difficulty walking, tingling or numbness, nerve pain, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, loss of reflexes, and poor balance. Treatment for the disease often includes corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, plasmapharesis, or other drugs that can suppress the immune system. Physical therapy can produce improved muscle strength; when immune system suppressants are not effective, stem cell transplant may be considered. The disease tends to relapse and remit sporadically. To learn more about chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, click here.
Improving Treatment Access
A common treatment for this disease is intravenous immunoglobulin or IVIG. These infusions can provide significant benefits for patients. Considered the difficulties with mobility that chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy can inflict, having an option for home infusion for Medicare recipients with the disease is the most practical and humane option for access.
The Medicare IVIG Access Enhancement Act would explicitly make home infusion for these patients an option. Right now, Medicare recipients with the disease are expected to travel to a center to receive their IVIG infusion. These centers may be hours away and given the mobility challenges of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, travel can be difficult.
Matthew LaRocco who is the VP of the GBS/CIDP Foundation International, has expressed support for the legislation, which has the potential to dramatically improve quality of life for these patients. The bill also has the potential to benefit other patients that need home infusions of IVIG, such as those with multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN).