To the Editor,
Re article entitled, “Celgene Accused of Using Charities ‘Scheme’ to Gain Billions” (Aug. 1):
The article focused on false accusations directed at the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation and similar charities made by Joel W. Hay, Ph.D., an expert witness for the plaintiff in a pending whistle-blower lawsuit against a major drug manufacturer.
The PAN Foundation helps people with life-threatening, chronic and rare diseases access critical medications by supporting their out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance. Our role is crucial — studies show that significant numbers of patients miss or delay treatment, and skip or cut medication doses because of high out-of-pocket costs.
The PAN Foundation, and similar not-for-profit, charitable patient assistance organizations, provides an essential safety net for seriously ill patients. Since we receive donations from drug manufacturers and provide financial assistance to Medicare beneficiaries, we are required to follow guidelines issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We fully comply with the OIG guidelines.
The PAN Foundation is not a defendant in the lawsuit described in the article. The lawsuit is about off-label promotion, not charitable patient assistance. Nevertheless, Dr. Hay asserts in his report that the manufacturer, “laundered money to patients,” by contributing to charitable patient assistance programs, ignoring that these donations were made in strict compliance with OIG guidelines. Dr. Hay further claims that the PAN Foundation gave data to the manufacturer in violation of the OIG guidelines when, in fact, we furnish only aggregate reports that do not contain any prohibited information. The PAN Foundation does not provide product-specific or patient-level data to our donors.
We are proud at the PAN Foundation to provide an essential safety net for people with life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases who are struggling to afford their critical medications. We make every effort to operate in compliance with the OIG guidelines that govern charitable patient assistance programs. It is beyond disconcerting that such a misleading story could ultimately result in a reduction in the charitable assistance available to seriously ill patients.
President and CEO of the Patient Access Network Foundation