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I Won’t Go Into Debt Even Though I Can’t Otherwise Afford My “Wonder Drug”

Sue Lee of Kentucky said she stopped taking the drug she needs to control the pain and reduce the outbreaks of her plaque psoriasis because it’s too expensive.

President Trump recently addressed his plan to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, a major priority of his and HHS Secretary Azar. This is one of a series of blogs by Americans who have been challenged by expensive medications.

I worked for an insurance company until I retired a year ago, and I was still stunned by the high cost of a prescription drug I was taking to control the pain and reduce the outbreaks of plaque psoriasis.

It’s a nasty genetic condition that leads to deep, itchy, painful sores on my skin. I had been taking a “wonder” drug for five years that was basically paid for by health insurance through my employer and a copay assistance company. My copay was only $5 a month.

But when I retired and went on Medicare and a supplemental plan, I learned that my drug is on a tier where I would have to pay 33 percent of the cost. I was told that I didn’t qualify for copay assistance. Basically, it was going to cost me about $7,200 a year. I have only about $18,000 in savings and my Social Security and small pension come to less than $24,300 a year. You can see there’s not much there to live on, so I stopped taking my prescription.  It was going to quickly drain my savings.

Now I do the best I can with a prescribed topical ointment for sores on my body and a cream for my face.

It’s not fair. I’m basically healthy. I eat healthy. I live healthy. I didn’t even draw my Social Security until I was 65 and then I worked another 10 years, paying into it. I saved the government money. Yet I’m feeling like I’m being punished.

It’s not right in this country that I would have to beggar myself. I’ve done my part and my country is not doing enough. I will not sell my house to pay for this medication. I’m leaving my house to my two sons. And it’s not like I can go back to work to pay for the medication—I’m 76, who’s going to hire me? I’ll just sit here and suffer if I have to.

The whole government has to get together and do something for the people it serves. For my part, I’m volunteering with a patient advocacy group that’s fighting for lower prescription drug prices. I don’t get paid, but it gives me something to do with my time to help myself and others.

Posted In:
Drug Pricing
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