Advocate Spotlight: Rujul Desai, JD
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got connected with the Cancer Support Community/Gilda’s Club.
I'm a health care attorney in Covington & Burling's Washington D.C. office and work closely with many of the leading biopharmaceutical companies that research and develop innovative treatments for cancer patients. I was introduced to CSC years ago by Lauren Barnes, the current Board Chair, whose enthusiasm for the CSC mission was infectious.
Did you have experience with advocacy in any capacity before joining CSC/GC? (e.g. legislator meetings, hosting educational events, writing letters or calling, writing pieces for media outlets, posting on your personal Facebook, sharing information with your community, etc.)
Yes, my career in Washington, D.C. and within the biopharmaceutical industry more generally has given me many opportunities to help develop and shape policy and advocacy campaigns, especially in the areas of pricing, reimbursement, and access for new cancer treatments.
Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?
I'm very concerned about the growing barriers for patient access to innovative therapies, especially given the way that a handful of large pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are putting in place new utilization management levers that can delay care and increase both financial and administrative burdens on patients and their doctors. We are likely to see increased advocacy efforts at both the federal and state level to help make sure these PBMs act in a fiduciary manner when impacting the health of patients and managing health care expenditures.
What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?
Think about advocacy as an investment in your children's future. Effective advocacy can sometimes take years, so it is important to keep in mind both the short and long term impacts of the time, effort, and resources you put into advocacy campaigns.
Tell us something fun about yourself—any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?
While my role in health care today is as a lawyer with too much time spent sitting behind a desk, I got my start in this rewarding field when I enlisted in Army almost 30 years ago to serve in Medical Service Corps.
If you are interested in learning more about policy, advocacy, and ways to get involved, sign up to be a part of the Grassroots Network!