My name is Carol and I’m from Bisbee, AZ. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004 and began receiving daily Copaxone injectionsin 2005. I was shocked at the price tag — if I recall correctly, my insurance plan was billed $1,500 each month, and the price of Copaxone kept rising. At one point, my injections cost $7,500 each month, and I paid $1,065 out-of-pocket even after receiving a $2,500 coupon from the manufacturer, Teva. I began taking Copaxone three times a week instead of daily to put distance between these copays.
Today, though my multiple sclerosis is in remission, my doctor strongly suggests that I continue with the drug if I want to keep my health in check. I’m currently taking generic Copaxone three times a week rather than the recommended daily dose. I receive copay assistance from Mylan and pay $1,543 out-of-pocket twice a year –– that number would be even higher if I were not rationing the injections.
Multiple sclerosis is a lifetime disease, and I’m forced to watch the drug companies illogically and cruelly continue to increase the prices of these necessary medications. I’m blessed to be able to stay healthy while taking fewer doses than instructed, but I shouldn’t have to worry about rationing my medication in order to stay alive and still cover for all of my other expenses. The sad truth is that the available medications for multiple sclerosis can’t cure the disease –– they can only reduce the number of relapses. It is a high cost for marginal benefit.
A while ago, I wrote to the CEO of Teva sharing my story. I wanted him to know that as a part of our health care system, drug companies have a social responsibility to offer their products at a price that’s reasonable, instead of charging as much as they can and making millions. I never got a response.
Even though there are more and more multiple sclerosis drugs being developed and market competition is increasing, prices keep going up. I understand that drug companies need to make a profit to continue the research and development of future drugs, but there needs to be a limit. Leaders must act now to fix our broken health care system and keep drug prices in check.