My name is Heidi Kendall, and in 2017 I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), a rare blood cancer. It was discovered by a blood test showing my white blood count to be almost 300,000 –– while normal range is just 4,000 – 11,000. This was incredibly frightening to me, as I had always had fair health.
CML is treatable, but there is no cure yet. The treatment is a daily pill that I will need to take for the rest of my life in order to stay alive. For me that pill is Imatinib. When I first started taking it, I was given the brand name drug, Gleevec. It cost $9,770 per month. About four months ago I was switched to the generic, but the price is still about $2,000 per month.
I don’t know who can afford that. I certainly wouldn’t be able to if I lost my insurance. Thankfully, my insurance covers it, but I feel terrible that everyone else in my plan is paying more to keep me alive. I know there are countless others who are going bankrupt because of the high cost of drugs. Something needs to change.
It can be easy to be satisfied with my current low costs and not pay attention to the larger issues of our mismanaged health care costs. I know that in the future, my insurance status may change completely, and I may end up in the situation so many others are in: taking out massive loans, rationing my medication, or simply not taking it at all. Patients across America are suffering under the crushing costs of life-saving medication, we’re living in fear, and it’s important we speak out in order to end these abusive pricing practices.