My name is Rachel Conner and I live in Chapmansboro, Tennessee. When I was 20 years old, I was diagnosed with OCD and depression. I lived in a constant state of anxiety, to the point that I was only sleeping 45 minutes a night and often couldn’t eat because of my anxiety. In 2011, I started taking clomipramine, the first drug that really helped with my OCD. I remember realizing that after taking my medication, it was the first time in my life that I didn’t feel constantly anxious. I was finally able to focus and was truly enjoying myself for the first time. The copay for my prescription was only $10 a month and clomipramine was the only medication I needed to take to treat my symptoms.
One day in 2014, I walked into my local Walgreens to purchase my refill and was told the price of clomipramine had increased by over 2000%. The retail price was now $1,400 per month and my insurance had dropped the medication from my coverage. There was no way I would be able to afford that price. I looked at other insurance companies hoping that I could find one that would cover my medication, but all had similarly dropped clomipramine from their formularies. I tried everything to access my medicine, even looking into ways to get the drug from Canada, but found no affordable way to purchase my medication.
As if the frustration and uncertainty around whether I would be able to get this life-changing medication weren’t enough, Mylan, the drug company that produces clomipramine, responded to criticism of price gouging by conducting an “internal investigation.” The “investigation” found no wrongdoing by the company.
Since I could longer afford this medication that brought me clarity and a break from my constant anxiety, my doctor began prescribing a combination of other medications. What I could accomplish before by taking clomipramine would now take several prescriptions to try and reach the same effect. It has now taken over five years for me and my doctors to find a combination of medications that combats my symptoms almost as well as my original drug.
During the chaos of trying to find a combination of medications that worked for me, I was still working as a teacher for ESL students. Teaching ESL was always a passion of mine and led me to become a teacher and earn my master’s degree. Unfortunately, my health issues reached a point where I could not continue teaching. I was lucky that I married my husband right before I stopped teaching, and could be covered by his insurance. Otherwise, I would’ve ended up spending more on my medications each month than I pay in rent.
No one should have to spend years of their life searching for a combination of medications to treat their condition when there is a drug that already works incredibly well for them. The drug companies’ greed and disregard for patients took five years of my life away from me. The price hike of clomipramine has completely derailed my life for almost half a decade. We need to change the prescription drug industry so people like me can access the medications that work best for us at a price we can afford.