In 2019, Valrico, Florida, resident Laura Bray faced a parent’s nightmare when doctors diagnosed her nine-year-old daughter Abby with leukemia. Then, as if that weren’t enough to rock the family’s world, one of Abby’s chemotherapy treatment drugs caused an anaphylactic reaction in the little girl.
After Abby was treated for the life-threatening allergic reaction, the family learned the alternative drug now needed for Abby’s treatment, Erwinaze, could not be obtained by the hospital due to a shortage that had a 15-month waiting list.
“Abby is clever; nothing gets past her,” Bray told Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a CNN interview. “And she said, ‘What does this mean? Does this mean I die?”
Not on mom’s watch. Bray created Angels For Change to raise awareness and help identify breakdowns in medical supply chains for life-saving drugs. The organization works to build support through awareness and advocacy, as noted in the X post below.
Yesterday, Angels for Change marched on Washington to the Capitol to raise awareness, promote advocacy and support for those who have been effected by Childhood Cancer. We are proud to carry our survivors with us while working towards ending drug shortages. pic.twitter.com/qgPwJcMjHl
— Angels for Change (@angelsforchange) September 25, 2022
Bray became what she calls the organization’s “Chief Change Maker” by launching Angels for Change in the fall of 2019. This volunteer-supported nonprofit has a mission to eliminate these critical drug shortages.
“The fear and helplessness I felt when the pharmaceutical supply chain didn’t … give us access to the things she needed to survive is really what drives our mission, making sure we have advocacy, but (also) a more resilient supply chain. So no patient gets left behind again,” Bray told ABC Action News in May.
Bray had recently been in Washington, D.C., talking to Congress about the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain problem. In testimony given to the congressional committee, Bray shared some disturbing statistics about U.S. medication supply, including the fact that in April of 2023, 301 drugs were impacted by shortages. She also noted that the number of in-shortage drugs had risen by a third since 2018, with 47 of them added to the list in the first quarter of 2023 alone.
In her testimony, she also said that hospitals spend $365 million annually navigating drug shortages. Up to 55% of hospitals must change patient treatments because of shortages and 90% of oncologists say drug shortages have a negative impact on patient outcomes.
Through Angels For Change, Bray brings these issues to light and works with drug manufacturers to use prediction models to help anticipate potential shortages and push their production before the drugs run out. And last year, the organization entered the grant-making space with an outreach program called Project PROTECT. It’s funded by a $100,000 grant and designed to reduce the impact of drug shortages at the patient level.
Here’s a YouTube video Bray posted about the program.
With more grants and continual fundraising, Bray believes Angels for Change can make a lasting impact on U.S. healthcare.
“This should not be the state of our healthcare supply chain,” Bray told ABC Action News. “Physicians should have the tools they need readily available to save our lives. And we deserve those tools to have our lives saved.”
Bray is currently in D.C. again, doing interviews and spreading the word. If you’re interested in helping out, you can donate at the Angels for Change website or join its network on Facebook. You can also become a volunteer.
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