Neurological Disease Working Group

AfPA’s Neurological Disease Working Group seeks to ensure that policymakers hear the perspectives of clinicians who treat patients with neurological conditions such as movement disorders, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, and epilepsy. Working group members collaborate on educational resources and advocacy initiatives that promote informed policy making on issues impacting access to medical therapies.

Neurodegenerative & Neurological Conditions

Progressive and debilitating, neurodegenerative disorders impact millions of Americans. People with Parkinson’s struggle with a host of symptoms affecting movement and cognition. Those with Alzheimer’s experience memory loss but also suffer more generalized cognitive decline, and those with Huntington’s disease struggle with uncontrollable movements and writhing. As these disabling conditions progress, they are often complicated by the emergence of additional symptoms. Psychiatric disturbances such as anxiety and depression are common to the advanced stages of all three conditions. Psychosis, often characterized by delusions or hallucinations, can further complicate these conditions.

Beyond neurodegenerative conditions, physician working group members also treat autoimmune disorders that affect the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis. Patients with MS can struggle with numbness of the appendages, impaired vision and communication, and movement challenges. Working group members also treat patients to manage epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

Treatment Options & Barriers

Though no cures exist, medical therapies can improve quality of life for patients. Research and development continues in the search for therapies that can modify, even cure, these neurological conditions. The Food and Drug Administration sometimes provides such therapies priority review, fast tracking their availability to patients with few treatment options.

Health plan designs, however, do not always facilitate patients’ access to breakthrough therapies. High out-of-pocket costs and onerous prior authorization processes, as well as fail first protocols, limit patient access to newly available therapies. Given the millions of Americans affected by neurological disorders and the high costs associated with breakthrough therapies, education and informed policy making are essential to ensure appropriate patient access.

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For more information about this physicians’ working group, click here.

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