August 18, 2020 Blog

I lost something so valuable.

My name is Therese Humphrey Ball and I am from Chicago, Illinois. Caring for patients was my life’s work as a registered nurse. Throughout my nursing career, I moved throughout the country. And while I’d seen my patients struggle with drug prices, I began to see the issue firsthand in my own life when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003. 

When I was first prescribed Copaxone for my MS, it cost me $1,800 a month and wiped out my savings. By the grace of God, I received grants every year for my medications from 2012 to 2016. Without the grants, I would be in the Medicare donut hole after just one month. When I was unable to get a grant in 2017, the same medication cost $6,000 a month and forced me to go off of it entirely for three months. I also went off my pancreas enzymes for 6 months, all because the cost was too high.

While off my medication, I began having difficulty with my cognitive function. I felt so frustrated as I developed these cognitive difficulties. I work really hard to keep my life in order and my memory intact even with MS. It was devastating. The prohibitive price of my prescription is the reason for these problems. If my Copaxone were affordable, it wouldn’t have been easy, but I would’ve been able to keep fighting to keep my life in order and protect my memory. The high price of my medication took that power away from me. I was left dejected, unable to get the care I needed, and powerless against my condition. Because of the drug companies’ greed, I lost something so valuable –– and I’m not the only one.

I have three grown kids and eight grandchildren who are always there for me. They say to me “Gran don’t worry, when you can’t walk, I’m just going to carry you.” But they shouldn’t have to care for me early because I cannot afford my medications. My condition shouldn’t progress faster only because drug companies want to make a few extra bucks. When someone can’t afford their prescriptions, it doesn’t just affect their life, but also their family’s lives too. 

I shouldn’t have to spend all my savings just to afford the medication I need. Pharmaceutical companies will clearly always prioritize profits over the health of patients. Our government needs to act to protect me and the millions of other patients like me who go without their medications because of the high price tag. I hope our elected officials will care more about families like mine than they do about pharmaceutical companies’ profit lines.

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