My name is Jacqueline Garibay and I’m a 19-year-old college student from Austin, Texas.
Last year, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects my spine and has spread to most of my major joints. Without expensive biologic medications, my spine could fuse and leave me unable to walk by the time I’m out of school.
I am currently prescribed Cosentyx which is priced at almost $3,000 every month. That’s simply money I don’t have as a college student. How can anyone be expected to afford that? I’ve tried three different biologics now while trying to find one that will work for me, and have had to pay incredibly high prices for all of them, even when they haven’t helped my condition.
I live in constant worry about how I will be able to afford my expensive medications, my tuition, my rent, and my groceries at the same time. I’m studying political science in Washington D.C. and I want to go to law school. But my dreams and my independence are threatened by having to constantly worry about affording my treatment because I’m going to have to take an expensive biologic like Cosentyx for the rest of my life.
When I was diagnosed, my parents said that they will do whatever it takes to afford the treatment I need, but no one should have to have that conversation. My condition is genetic, and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, but now I have to live with the consequences of the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of my life.
I am thankful for the innovation of the biologics that I use to manage my AS. Without it I wouldn’t be able to do the things I love — hiking, practicing yoga, and even writing. I care deeply about future innovation — not only do I rely on my biologics to live the life that I love, but I also rely on the hope that even better biologics will be developed in the future. From experts on both sides of the aisle, I know that drug prices can come down without negatively impacting the innovation of the drugs I dream of. I need policymakers to remember patients like myself who are just now entering adulthood and trying to tackle school and drug pricing at the same time.
Because what good will new drugs do if they are too expensive for me to access? Patients like myself need drug pricing reform now.