My name is Bob Fowler. I am a North Ridgeville, Ohio resident, a soon-to-be-retired college professor, and a cancer patient. I am also one of the thousands of people across Ohio who is desperate for relief from skyrocketing drug prices.

I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2006. I received a stem cell transplant in 2009, and shortly after that began taking a pricey chemotherapy drug, Revlimid. 

For the last 10 years, I have taken Revlimid to treat my incurable blood cancer. Ten years ago, this drug cost my employee medical insurance plan $7,143 for a 28-day supply; today the price has jumped to $14,602. The cost has more than doubled for the exact same drug. Not so much as a molecule has been changed –– just the price. Every 28 days I receive 21 capsules of Revlimid; there are 13 of these 28-day cycles in a year; this amounts to approximately $190,000 per year.

Now that I am retiring, I am weighing my options for Medicare, and God only knows what the outcome of that will be. I am currently working with several knowledgeable experts to help me navigate the Medicare labyrinth to make the best choices for my wife and me. Early estimates tell us we can expect to pay at least $12,000 a year for my Medicare Part D drug coverage alone. Believe it or not, this was actually a relief to me. With the high retail price of my super-drug, I was afraid that it would cost me many tens of thousands of dollars under a Medicare Part D drug plan, because there is no mechanism currently to curb soaring Medicare drug prices.

Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices would change the lives of so many patients like me. Rapidly rising prices for drugs like mine are a good example of why arbitration is needed more than ever. Medicare negotiations would give me hope that the price of my super-drug would stop increasing like a runaway train. It would give me hope that my wife and I would not deplete our retirement savings due to my medical expenses. It would bring me such relief to know that Medicare drug prices are being managed rationally and logically.  I am strongly in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. My financial health and perhaps even my life itself depend upon it.