HPS Network joins coalition of rare disease organizations to oppose repeal of the Orphan Drug Tax Credit

The HPS Network has joined with the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD) and more than 200 rare disease organizations to oppose repeal of the Orphan Drug Tax Credit within the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This tax credit is one of the only a few incentives to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments for rare disorders. Currently, 95 percent of people affected by a rare disorder have no FDA approved treatment, including those with Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome. Rare disorders affect 1 in 10 Americans.

The credit allows pharmaceutical companies to claim a tax credit of 50 percent of the qualified costs of clinical research and drug testing of orphan drugs. It was first implemented in 1983. Since then, 3,500 drugs potential treatments have been eligible for the credit, and 500 orphan therapies have made it all the way to FDA approval. Yet, there is still so much work to do!

It isn’t too early to contact your member of Congress. To find out how, go to: https://rarediseases.org/advocate/policy-priorities/contact-representatives/


Purchase coffee and tea to help fund the cure

Sandra Ocasio and her daughter Cassandra Mendez Ocasio are holding an online fundraiser to raise money for the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS). The fundraiser will run through Nov. 14 and is selling various coffee and tea products. “I bought some tea last year to give as Christmas gifts. It was a great way to not just give a gift, but to give a gift that gave twice!” says Heather Kirkwood, Vice President and Director of Communications for the HPS Network. To make a purchase, go to:  https://form.jotform.com/hpstogether/coffee-break-for-hps

Research Alert: HPS Network tracking medical issues, looking for HPSers with specific characteristics

Valerie Friedman RN and Director of Medical Affairs for the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network, is tracking several medical issues we’ve noticed among the HPS community. We DO NOT know if they are in any way related to HPS, but would like to collect data that, if significant, could be shared with HPS researchers. If you have any of these medical issues, please e-mail Valerie at vfriedman@hpsnetwork.org and let her know so that she can add it to your profile in our membership database:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Kidney disease

The HPS Network is also tracking people with albinism who have too many dense bodies to meet the diagnostic criteria for HPS currently, yet do not have a normal number of dense bodies on their platelets. They should also not have a genetically diagnosed other type of albinism such as OCA1 or OCA2. We see an increasing number of people who fall into this category and are interested in identifying whether these cases could be a new type of HPS or another form of albinism.

Valerie is also interested in hearing about any medically significant bleeding events before an HPS diagnosis was made. These stories would be used for presentations about why accurate diagnosis of HPS is so important.

If you can help, please don’t forget to e-mail Valerie at: vfriedman@hpsnetwork.org


Has your contact information changed?

Please make sure to update your contact information with the HPS Network! We know many families have relocated, even temporarily, because of Hurricane Maria. If we can’t find you, we can’t reach out to you with any developments that might be helpful or important. Please encourage anyone in the HPS community you know who has had a change of address to update their information with the HPS Network. They can e-mail: info@hpsnetwork.org or they can call: (516) 922-4022.

Capital Campaign will go out in December

The HPS Network’s Capital Campaign will be mailed in early December. This is our annual general fundraising appeal mailing. Most charities do this, and for most, it is a major part of their budgets. This year the HPS Network lost one of our major fundraisers. It is even more important than ever that we have a successful capital campaign. If you know anyone you’d like us to add to the mailing list for this appeal, please send their name and snail mail address to: info@hpsnetwork.org. Or, if you’d prefer, let us know you’d like to do your own mailing with a personal appeal from you. We will send you already stuffed envelopes ready for you to drop in the mail!

HPS community attends patient day at the American Thoracic Society Annual Meeting



A group from the HPS Network attended Meet the Experts, a patient program held at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting by the Public Advisory Roundtable in May. This year’s theme was “The Role of Patients in Advancing Treatments and Cures.” Sessions covered various aspects of participating in research, from what questions to ask to what it means to participate in a patient registry.


After lunch, the audience broke into different groups to discuss their particular disease state. The HPS community spent our time discussing updates in advocacy for continued research and the obstacles we must overcome as a community.


“It was great to have such a turn out from the HPS community at this event,” says Heather Kirkwood, Vice President of the HPS Network, “We all wore our Dare to be Rare shirts so we were very noticeable to the doctors and other patients that attended.”


Those from the HPS community who attended the event were: Donna Appell, Ashley Appell, Heather Kirkwood, Carmen Camacho, Frankie Feliciano, Nancy Lee, Julie Rehman, Karen Tillman, Tommy Tillman, Candice Sipe, Candice Sipe and Eden Brock.


HPS Network sends medical supplies to Puerto Rico

The HPS Network raised nearly $3,500 to help with relief efforts in Puerto Rico after hurricanes Maria and Irma. After being in contact with some of our friends in the medical community regarding what was needed, the Network purchased medical supplies and sent them, with HPS Network Board of Director member Hilda Cardona, to Puerto Rico.

The Appell family helped to encourage donations by offering a $1,500 matching grant.

Puerto Rico has a long way to go to recover from these devastating events. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with our friends and family on the island every day. We know that what we could do is so little compared with so many needs. We look forward to hearing from more and more friends as the situation in Puerto Rico improves.

Room block reservations open for 25th Annual Conference

Make hotel reservations now to attend the 25th Annual HPS Network Conference, March 9 – 11, 2018 at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, N.Y. Rooms are $154 a night plus tax with the room rate. The theme of this year’s conference is Our True Colors and the banquet dinner will be a celebration of our 25th (silver) anniversary! Don’t miss this historic, and informative, event.

To make reservations online, go to: http://tinyurl.com/hps252018, or to make reservations by phone call: 516.794.3800. Tell them you are with the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Network Group. Our group code is HYM. If you have downloaded the igive button on your toolbar, and you make the reservation online, a small portion of your bill will be donated to the HPS Network. The igive donation will not work if you go through the igive.com online mall and access the main Marriott reservations page. You must have the igive button downloaded on your toolbar.

Come celebrate the achievements of the last 25 years with us, and help us work toward being out of business by our 50th anniversary!




Singing camp raises money for HPS

Joanne Criblez’s summer camp voice students gave a concert to raise money and awareness for Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS) Thursday, Aug. 10th at the LIU-Post Hillwood Commons Theatre, The performance, “A Night At The Movies Summer Cabaret” and featured music from iconic film scores.

Joanne Criblez is a long-time supporter of the HPS Network and Ashley Appell’s voice coach. For many years she organized the HPS Christmas Concert with the J-Band as well as music at the HPS Network Conference in New York.

“We can’t say thank you enough to all of the singers that helped out,” says Donna Appell, President and Founder of the HPS Network, “We truly thank you from the bottom of our lungs.”

Coach Grill and Tavern raises funds for the HPS Network


The Coach Grill and Tavern in Oyster Bay, N.Y. raised funds for the HPS Network by selling t-shirts at their recent pig roast anniversary party. They also recently made the HPS Network the recipient of donations earned through the cocktail of the month! The Coach Grill and Tavern is a long-time supporter of the HPS Network. Thanks so much for your support, and Happy Anniversary!!!!