“Bei Li Xin Sheng” Patient Assistance Program launched to support long-term therapeutic benefits for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus
24 September 2019
The “Bei Li Xin Sheng” Patient Assistance Program was launched today by China Primary Health Care Foundation for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It aims to provide the innovative medicine needed for the treatment of SLE patients who are qualified to join the program. The medicine used for the program, Benlysta (belimumab), is donated by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The first phase of the program will cover 100 hospitals in 20 cities in China.
Ms. Ningning Hu, Deputy Secretary-General of China Primary Health Care Foundation, said: “We are launching the ‘Bei Li Xin Sheng’ Patient Assistance Program in a bid to boost fairness, accessibility and effectiveness of health services under Healthy China 2030 Initiative. China Primary Health Care Foundation is committed to the mission of allowing all people to have access to healthcare. With the program, we hope to help patients, who live in or return to poverty due to the disease, to improve their quality of life, reduce disease burden and receive long-term effective treatment.”
Repeated recurrence, multiple-organ complications and side effects due to high-dose hormonal treatment seriously impairing the health of patients with SLE
With lupus nephritis, inability to walk due to joint pain, obesity, blindness and other complications, the 35-year-old Na Na once lost the courage in her life. At the launch ceremony, Na Na, a patient with SLE, shared her tough experience of fighting the disease in the past eight years. “China has millions of SLE patients like me,” Na Na said. “The damage that SLE brings to us is huge and long-term. Due to the use of steroids, we can easily have moon faces, buffalo humps or osteoporosis. As the disease relapses, many patients have worsened renal functions. In addition to physical pain, patients may also face the impact on childbirth and economic pressure. SLE also results in significant financial cost to patients.”
SLE is an autoimmune disease that can cause damage to multiple organs and tissues such as kidney, cardiovascular system, lung, digestive system, blood system, blood vessels, and eyes, thus significantly increasing the risk of death.
Professor Liangjing Lu, Deputy Director of the Department of Rheumatology and Immunology of Renji Hospital of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, said: “SLE patients are mainly women of childbearing age.  In the past 60 years, conventional therapies for SLE included glucocorticoids, antimalarials and immunosuppressive agents, all of which had certain side effects. Patients were exposed to the risks of double damage caused by the disease’s ‘relapsing-alleviation’ cycle and side effects due to long-term drug use. Under the current treatment plan, nearly 60% of SLE patients still have continuous disease activity or repeated recurrence and more than 50% patients have organ damage.”
“Long-term high-dose use of Steroids seriously affects patients’ quality of life, and immune dysfunction also significantly increases the risk of infection and death, causing tremendous pain and economic burden on patients and their families, said Dongyi He, Deputy President of Shanghai Guanghua Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine.
Patient assistance program launched to boost drug availability for patients with SLE
In July, Belimumab, the world’s first biologic therapy for the treatment of SLE, was approved in China. “Bei Li Xin Sheng” Patient Assistance Program was launched to help more patients to access our innovative medicines. Patients who living on the lowest subsistence allowance and those with low incomes, who live in or return to poverty due to the illness, are eligible to this program. Low-income patients refer to patients with financial difficulties in which household medical expenses account for 40% or more of the family’s affordability. After completing 4 doses of belimumab treatment at their own expense, low-income patients can receive another 4 doses for free if they need continuous treatment after being verified by physicians and the program office. SLE patients living on the lowest subsistence allowance can initially apply for 8 doses for free after being verified by physicians and the program office. They will be entitled to the plan for low-income patients for the second application.
Ms. Hu said: “Patients with SLE and their families often live in or return to poverty due to the illness, resulting in decreased compliance with treatment, and leading to repeated recurrence of the disease. By catering to clinical needs, the assistance program can help patients receive the therapy in the long term, reduce discontinuance of treatment, and greatly ease disease burden. We also hope to leverage more public welfare projects to encourage and engage people from all walks of life, social welfare organisations and companies to jointly contribute to public benefits. We also call for inclusion of the innovative medicine for SLE patients into the National Reimbursement Drug List as early as possible to support long-term treatment for patients at the policy level.”
Fabio Landazabal, Senior Vice President of Emerging Markets at GSK, said: “GSK is committed to improving people’s health and the quality of human life through R&D and innovation. GSK has always been patient-centric, and we hope our donation in the patient assistance program will help more people to benefit from our innovative therapy, improve their quality of life and live a wonderful life. Under the guidance of national policies, we are also exploring new ways to improve drug accessibility and affordability to benefit more Chinese patients.”
From 8 October, patients with SLE can dial the hotline (4008982880) of the “Bei Li Xin Sheng” Patient Assistance Program for consultation. The WeChat platform (WeChat public account: blxspap) and website (blxs.huanzheyuanzhu.cn) will be also be available then.
About China Primary Health Care Foundation
China Primary Health Care Foundation is a national public foundation sponsored by the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, supervised by the National Health Commission, and registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. It’s a large-sized nonprofit organization with leading reputation and industry influence. Since its establishment on December 30, 1996, the Foundation has always been calling for all sectors of the society to care about the development of China’s medical and health care industry, and strive to help people to have access to basic health services.
GSK – a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com.
Chloe Yao （firstname.lastname@example.org）