A Message from Dr. Randhawa
Founder and CEO, Southern California Food Allergy Institute
Children First and Mission Focused: The Sacrifices of Growth
Dear Food Anaphylaxis Community,
Over a decade ago, I took the greatest personal risk of my career. I put aside all of my academic and financial accomplishments and focused on orphan diseases. I felt compelled to do so because I recognized the slow, inefficient movement of current medicine resulting in countless children dying from orphan diseases. I personally committed my own finances to build TPIRC and the SoCal Food Allergy Institute. Designing and building an entirely unique approach to solving medical problems was not only difficult, it was costly. Collecting data effectively is costly. Analyzing data to develop individual treatment plans is costly. Creating predictive analytics modeling, which did not exist in the past, to create the best outcomes with the best safety for your children is costly. Deploying TIP to patients is costly.
By 2007, after receiving initial start up grant funds from donors and foundations, the $1 million dollars raised at that time had to be stretched to study TIP in 500 patients. I quickly realized the data of 500 patients would be more powerful if it was 5,000 patients. The data collected before, during and after treatment would make the TIP journey for the next patient even more safe and more predictable. By 2011, with little funding remaining, I designed the nonprofit TPIRC and SoCal Food Allergy. I personally funded over 50% of the startup costs to make sure this organization could reach 5,000 patients quickly and safely.
Fortunately, with growing philanthropic support, the first step was to build infrastructure:
- Build a research lab to create better markers.
- Build a blood draw diagnostics lab to have all markers analyzed comprehensively, quickly and accurately.
- Build a food protein laboratory to produce over 15,000 patient specific doses of food protein per week.
- Build the clinical space to safely treat and challenge the children.
- Build bioinformatics and software to assess data and drive treatment safely and accurately.
- Build the team of trained and certified physicians, scientists, engineers and staff to expand the opportunity to treat the 10 million food anaphylaxis children who deserve freedom and safety.
As a successful scientist, physician and entrepreneur, I have been approached regularly by private investment companies who wish to buy SoCal Food Allergy and the software behind the TIP protocol. As I spoke to investors, the goals of investors were solely focused on profit and not safety. While I could personally profit from this approach, it did not, and does not align with my philosophy. My own philosophy in medicine and business is to achieve a social good. In the United States, the expansion of any business will require market capitalism. However, I believe market capitalism can accomplish a social good. Here, with TIP, my goal for growth was to create a fair cost approach to TIP to allow any patient access. We have held true to this commitment. We have accepted patients on Medicaid at no cost. We have accepted out of country patients. We have accepted the most difficult cases in food anaphylaxis. In doing so, we have achieved unparalleled safety and success under more government and regulatory agency than most drug companies.
I am proud to state SoCal Food Allergy reached the 5,000 patient mark this month. Now, what is next? As the CEO and founder, I drive the organization's growth strategy. We are in a position to save and impact more lives. We have a social responsibility to expand TIP to reach all patients who need it. What is needed to accomplish this monumental goal without losing the philosophy of safety first? Sacrifice. I continue to receive an annual salary from SoCal Food Allergy of one dollar per year. I will continue to do so until we reach our goal. I humbly request everyone in the food anaphylaxis community to think of this condition beyond your own family and commit to supporting the community as a whole.
Is the growth of SoCal Food Allergy exciting? Yes. Is it complex, confusing and even scary? Yes. From the patient and family perspective, rapid growth sometimes results in a communication gap. We want to be clear about the expectations of our growth from the organization and the patient's family. SoCal Food Allergy will continue to bear the bulk of the cost of every patient treated. We will continue to appropriately bill visits and procedures. We will ask families to pay a reasonable program fee to support the complex nature of treatment which results in food freedom. However, I want to be clear. The children come FIRST in this organization. We will work with every family to find a way to participate in TIP.
Our Shared Commitment
In the next months, patients will have access to dedicated personnel at SoCal Food Allergy to help with financial questions. We will aid with pre-authorization and medical necessity communications. We will work with you on financial payment plans as well. Rest assured, the billing process of healthcare is confusing. We will work with you to keep your costs as low as possible. However, it is your responsibility to understand how your insurance plan works as well. We both have the same goal of completing TIP for your child. We can and will accomplish this as a team.
SoCal Food Allergy must grow to reach all food anaphylaxis patients. We have a social responsibility to do so. We also must do so strategically, fairly and safely. I am committed. Our expansion is also dependent on philanthropy. The support you generate for SoCal Food Allergy directly impacts our growth and allows more kids to be treated. With greater support, we can build the software and infrastructure to get patients treated across the country in a matter of years. Shared sacrifice - let's do this together!
Dr. Inderpal Randhawa