Lifestyle & WellnessPublic Interest

Letter to the Editor

My Name is Claire Henn and I live in St. Paul. I have been impacted by high drug prices and want to share my experience.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and was taking Remicade, a drug that reduces inflammation and can slow down or halt the progression of the disease. It was working quite well for me and then the co-pay went from $60 a treatment to $1400 and was no longer affordable. I was getting the infusions every four weeks. My doctor tried to find another medication I could take, but because of previous allergic reactions to drugs, low cost generic drugs were not an option. My only alternative was taking Naproxen and Turmeric (a homeopathic treatment). During the three years I was without treatment I had severe pain and my physical abilities deteriorated to the point I couldn’t cut a peanut butter sandwich. The loss of strength and stamina are not reversible.

Last year with the help of my doctor we found a charity that would help with the co-pays and I was able to resume the Remicade. Unfortunately, my body no longer accepted the treatment — it caused severe side effects so I needed to stop taking it. I am now on Orencia and the co-pay is $1070 a treatment and luckily the charity is helping with the cost.

I am a senior whose income is a small pension and Social Security. I have worked my entire life, but without the assistance of the charity to pay my drug costs I would have to choose between giving up my home or the medication. I have no guarantee that next year I will get help from the charity and may have to give up the drugs again and lose my ability to function without help. I am not the only senior in this position and no one should have to make those choices.

It doesn’t matter who is responsible for pricing, the results are the same, and people are going without needed medication and either living in unbearable pain or dying as a result. This needs to change.

Claire Henn []

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