My name is Michael Nielsen and my wife, Jacki, and I live in Bend, Oregon. I am a two-tour disabled Vietnam combat veteran, so my family has health coverage from CHAMPVA. But even with insurance, we’ve had trouble affording Jacki’s medication for chronic hepatitis C.
Jacki is currently trying out a new drug, Mavyret, on a recommendation from her doctor. Mavyret costs $12,000 for a 30-day supply. We were unable to afford the out-of-pocket expenses of $3,000 annually, but luckily, we qualified for financial help from a patient assistance foundation.
Jacki has been on Mavyret for two months and is waiting for test results to see if it works for her, but she will die without relief for her condition. She is so fatigued all the time that it’s hard for her to get things done and keep up with our four grandchildren. It’s a shame because my wife has such a way with kids — she loves them and they love her back.
My wife and I have spent our lives trying to serve our community and our country the best that we can. Before retirement, I worked as an addiction and rehabilitation specialist and started programs all around the country for children and families. Jacki and I also raised four kids of our own and were foster parents to 22 children. Everyone we’ve contacted for help with drug costs has said that our family has done our duty for our country only to see the system let us down in our time of need.
I know that drug companies need to recoup the costs of research and development and that executives have a duty to make a “reasonable” profit for their investors. But I don’t understand how they can watch people die and not help them. Perhaps pharma executives would think differently if they had a family member who fought for their country, dedicated their lives to helping others, and were dying because they couldn’t afford their medications. High drug prices are killing the people our great country is supposed to protect. We must put people over profits.