My name is Grace Shults, I am 23 years old, and I am from Columbus, Ohio.
My story with high prescription drug costs started when I was just a teenager in high school. I had gotten really sick all of sudden and went undiagnosed for years, which only until later revealed I had Lyme disease – I was puking all the time and easily got sick – It wasn’t until recently that I was also diagnosed with gastroparesis, a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine. Because of these health issues, I’ve had to take antibiotics and a drug called Motegrity, which after partial insurance coverage, has been an issue to afford.
I grew up in a single parent household, where my personal health issues were essentially the big elephant in the room while my mother constantly scrambled financially. Though I thankfully was covered under my father’s health insurance plan and still am today, having ongoing medical issues was a financial burden that has caused undue stress for years.
Personally, the combination of Lyme disease, gastroparesis, and the other health issues it has created for me does not make life any easier. Because of my symptoms, there were times I was not eating or simply could not get myself to eat because of the pain I would later undergo. After trialing a couple of medications, I successfully landed on Motegrity, which has a list price of $505.40, which has provided consistent relief thus far at a cost of $165 per month out-of-pocket. Along with my other medications that I need, I pay on average $250 a month and try to get as many free samples from my doctors that I can. I consider myself disabled because of my health condition, am currently in school studying psychology and work remotely part time, which makes affording my medications a lot harder than most would think.
Socially, my life has also been impacted by the interconnection of my health and the medications I can afford. To put it simply, my social life is contingent on my health. I feel as if I do not have as many friends anymore while it is difficult to maintain a good social life while experiencing the many debilitating symptoms I confront on a regular basis. I am 23 years old and I should not feel alone in this way.
When faced with the question of why I believe in more affordable drugs, my answer is straightforward. I care because people need these medications to function. Affordable healthcare is not a privilege, it is a basic human right. We, the people, are not asking for crazy ludicrous things from society, we simply are asking for affordable medications to function in our society and live comfortable lives. I have seen family members before me struggle with affording their medications and now join them in this hurdle; it should not be this way at all. If Big Pharma made prescription drugs more affordable, they would still be profiting billions of dollars, all the while people would die and their health would decline.
Whenever I would imagine my future life, I never thought public health was for me, but my story has motivated me to pursue a career in this field. It is time for lower prescription drug prices.