Current challenges and opportunities in the care of patients with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP): an international, multi-stakeholder perspective

Background Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an ultra-rare, disabling genetic disorder characterized by congenital malformations of the great toes and progressive heterotopic ossification of soft and connective tissues. Assiduous attention to the unmet needs of this patient community is crucial to prevent potential iatrogenic harm and optimize care for individuals with FOP. Objective To gather international expert opinion and real-world experience on the key challenges for individuals with FOP and their families, highlight critical gaps in care, communication, and research, and provide recommendations for improvement. Methods An international group of expert clinicians, patients and patient advocates, caregivers and representatives from the international FOP community participated in a virtual, half-day meeting on 22 March 2021 to discuss the key unmet needs of individuals with FOP. Results Individuals with FOP often face the frustration of long diagnostic journeys, the burden of self-advocacy and the navigation of novel care pathways. Globally, patients with FOP are also confronted with inequities in access to diagnosis and specialist care, and consequently, unequal access to registries, clinical trials, and essential support from patient associations. Organizations such as the International FOP Association, the International Clinical Council on FOP, and national FOP organizations work to provide information, facilitate access to expert clinical guidance, nurture patient empowerment, fund FOP research and/or foster meaningful collaborations with the research community. The non-profit Tin Soldiers Global FOP Patient Search program aims to identify and provide a pathway to diagnosis and care for individuals with FOP, particularly in underserved communities. Such global initiatives and the increasingly widespread use of telemedicine and digital platforms offer opportunities to improve vital access to care and research. Conclusions This multi-stakeholder perspective highlights some of the unmet needs of individuals with FOP and their families. Regional and international organizations play an important role in improving the quality of life of those they reach in the global FOP community. However, globally, fundamental issues remain around raising awareness of FOP among healthcare professionals, identifying individuals with FOP, reducing time to diagnosis, and ensuring access to best practice in care, support, and clinical research. Medical writing support was industry-sponsored.