Christina's Story - California Drug Price Relief

Five years ago, I was hit with sudden onset, severe rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 49 that affected my ability to walk and work. After trying many medications, I finally found one that worked: Xeljanz.

Outrageously, Pfizer charges $3,400/month for Xeljanz. In January, my HMO started charging me 10% for “specialty drugs,” so instead of a $15 co-pay I had to start paying a $340 co-pay every month. (Pfizer does have a patient assistance program, but so far I have not been reimbursed for my out-of-pocket costs.)

Because of weakened bones, I’ve had six fractures in the last three years. The doctor recommend Forteo — but Lily charges $2,400 for that each month. Lily, too, has a patient assistance program that may help me with the $240/month co-pay.

But I only found out about these patient assistance programs because I posted my plight on Facebook. No one at my HMO seemed to know about these programs, and it would be all too easy for someone who can’t afford a sudden $600 increase in monthly co-pays to forego treatment — in this case, losing my mobility, ability to stay in the workforce, and preventing more broken bones.

It is outrageous for the drug companies to charge these ridiculous prices. Of course there are R&D costs — but all you have to do is look at the obscene profits these companies make to understand how grossly unfair their pricing schemes are.

I was sickened to see a recent TV ad from Pfizer glorifying the work that goes into creating one of their miracle medications, as an implicit justification for these unethical prices.

We must get our government to regulate pharmaceutical pricing as part of healthcare reform!