My name is Jacquie, I’m 31 and I’m a full-time Art Director in Waterloo, Iowa. In 2011, the same week as my college graduation, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which causes painful inflammation of the digestive tract. The stress of the cost of my treatment has impacted my life in ways that I could never imagine.
I depend on multiple medications to treat my disease, including Stelara, an expensive biologic. Treatment with Stelara begins with a $12,095 IV infusion and is followed by $24,191 shots every four weeks.
I am lucky to have insurance that allows me to afford Stelara, but not a day goes by that I do not stress about the what-ifs. What if I lose my job? What if my employer changes our insurance plan and my treatment is no longer affordable or covered? What if I am sick enough that I need extended time off from work? To make matters worse, stress is my number one trigger when it comes to my Crohn’s disease flare-ups –– so living with these what-ifs can make me sicker.
No one should have to live at the mercy of drug companies. But Big Pharma wants us to believe that high drug prices are required to fuel innovation into better medications and possible cures. Today there is no cure for Crohn’s disease so innovation is deeply important to me, but the truth is, we can lower drug prices without getting rid of important innovation.
Stelara is a top-selling drug that raked in more than $1 billion for Johnson & Johnson in 2020. Johnson & Johnson turned around and paid CEO Alex Gorsky $30 million in 2020.
Johnson & Johnson clearly has room to reduce its revenue and profits without harming innovation on future medicines. A cure for Crohn’s will only work if the patients who need it, can afford it. Patients like me need relief — we can lower drug prices and still get the innovation we need for healthier futures.