Prescription digital therapeutics show tremendous promise to improve - and save - lives

US House and Senate, Washington DC Capitol

If you’re reading headlines out of Washington, DC, it can feel like partisan gridlock is the only game in town. To be sure, razor thin margins of control in the House and Senate present some challenges, but there’s a strong undercurrent of bipartisanship in areas of health policy where action can help make a tremendous difference in the lives of millions of patients across America.

Prescription digital therapeutics (PDTs) are a great example of something gaining bipartisan momentum in Congress that can ultimately result in new policies to encourage broader development and use of life-saving treatments. This is an exciting development for patients and healthcare providers alike.

PDTs: Some of the most innovative treatments today

PDTs are evidence-based treatments that use software or virtual tools to deliver clinical benefits to patients. They’re incredibly convenient, given how much of our lives take place in the digital space; patients can access PDTs from home using smartphones, tablets, or computers, and they can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Unlike other digital health products available in app stores, PDTs are reviewed and authorised by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and must be prescribed by a healthcare provider.

PDTs represent some of the most innovative treatments available to patients today. They have many known uses, helping Americans identify, treat, and manage illnesses across a wide range of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diabetes management, substance and opioid use disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), vision impairment, and more.

Even from this short list of immediate applications, it’s easy to see the promise PDTs hold as a relatively young product category in the marketplace. There are currently around two dozen PDTs available today, with more than 140 products in the pipeline for development, so we’re just beginning to understand - and tap into - the ways they can help improve lives.

Providing access to PDT innovation

Even as PDTs grow steadily in the marketplace, there’s more that can be done to encourage and facilitate their broader adoption. PDTs don’t currently fit into coverage categories for Medicare or Medicaid. These categories are defined by law and need to be updated to include PDTs so that millions of Americans can have a reliable means of accessing this innovative care. This population includes some of the most vulnerable individuals in our nation. Individuals - neighbours, friends, relatives - for whom these treatments could be life-altering.

At the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), our diverse membership of pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and other stakeholders is proud to be leading the call for Congress to consider and pass the Access to Prescription Digital Therapeutics Act of 2023. Simply put, this bipartisan legislation would allow Medicare and Medicaid to cover PDTs. Of the PDTs currently on the market, nine of them fall under the scope of this act. The bill will not require government programmes to cover PDTs, but it does open a door. Medicare and Medicaid would be able to consider how PDTs might serve and enhance treatment for millions of beneficiaries and then determine the best approach to coverage for their patient population.

We are excited by the promise that PDTs hold for patients across America. By harnessing the power and potential of technology and applying the rigor of science and FDA review, they’ve already made a difference in the lives of millions of individuals and families. Their impressive track record has helped establish a strong - and growing - base of bipartisan support for the Access to PDTs Act of 2023. The conversations we’re having on Capitol Hill and with other stakeholders give us hope that this issue can be among the key areas where Congress comes together to deliver meaningful results to constituents - and patients - across America.

Susan A. Cantrell
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Susan A. Cantrell
13 December, 2023