Each year BDSRA staff, board members, and parent advocates travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators and appear before committees to push for accelerated drug discovery, increased services for those with rare disease, and improved FDA processes and other initiatives important to our families. Along with the Rare Disease Legislative Advocates, we join with other patient advocacy groups to speak for those who cannot.
BDSRA board, staff, and volunteers have also advocate across state legislatures during Rare Disease Day and Batten Awareness Weekend to raise awareness and increase research related funding for NCL studies. Parents of children with Batten disease have testified to committees in numerous state legislatures on a range of issues, including access to medications, accessibility, and support for services to those caring for patients with life limiting illness.
In 2013, Batten disease advocates appeared on program panels of the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Medicine to discuss medical and ethical ramifications of gene therapy in rare disease research. In February 2014, our Batten team from BDSRA, Taylor’s Tale and Noah’s Hope visited over 40 Congressional offices on Rare Disease Day to talk about the care needs of Batten children and push for drug discovery.
Parents and board members also have testified before the FDA during public meetings and panels on patient and caregiving challenges for rare disease. BDSRA Executive Director Margie Frazier currently serves as the Lysosomal Disease Network (LDN) Council of Patient Advocates (COPA) group leader, linking patient advocate groups nationally to advance the research and science of rare disorders. Legislative alerts, testimony and panel opportunities, and FDA updates are made available to the Batten community through BDSRA communication channels.
BDSRA actively engages in educational initiatives within the medical community nationally to inform and educate physicians, neurologists, nurses, allied health professionals, genetic counselors and palliative care specialists about Batten disease, the diagnostic challenges, and research and support services available to families.
Resources for rare disease advocacy also include: