Latest News | Mar 10, 2022

I am bewildered by the high price of my inhaler.

My name is Cynthia Tidrick and I live in Princeton, WV. I’m 60 years old, work as a contractor for a life science company, and live with emphysema.

Emphysema is a progressive lung disease that, even when treated, leads to shortness of breath and continued scarring. So that I can support myself, perform activities of daily living, and enjoy physical mobility, I need a long acting inhaler called Bevespi. This medication opens my airways and helps me breathe easier. However, Bevespi has become increasingly unaffordable.

Cynthia is sitting in a living room looking at the camera through black glasses. Her hair is white and worn short and she is wearing tree of life earrings.

I am a Technical Writer and for the last decade have worked as contracted labor. I continue to work contracts, usually six months at a time. Consequently, my health insurance is always precarious. Over the past few years, the cost for my inhaler has ranged by hundreds of dollars depending on my insurance plan. But over the last 18 months, which included two contracts and a period of unemployment, I have paid and continue to pay $449 for a 30 day supply. I am bewildered by the high price of my inhaler.

I have tried other long acting inhalers that were financially affordable, but the side effects were debilitating and required additional medications to treat.

Thus far, I am very lucky to be able to afford my inhaler despite this high cost. But all that has to happen is for my current contract to fail to renew, and I am in trouble. I budget around this cost and keep the price in mind every month. I am 60 and believe I would be better served by affordable medication and saving that $400 dollars a month for my pending retirement. The fewer services I need as a retired senior, the better for West Virginia and the United States tax payer.

Lower drug prices for long acting inhalers like Bevespi would bring peace of mind to me and countless other patients across the country. Having predictable costs over time makes budgeting easier, savings more robust, and we all know less stress makes for a happier public. 

Currently, Congress has the chance to pass meaningful drug reforms that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, curb drug price increases that exceed inflation, and cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors. I need my Senator, Joe Manchin, to pass these reforms now. West Virginians like me can’t wait any longer for relief from high drug prices.

My name is Brenda Dickason and I am a retired Tucson police department detective and middle school science teacher. I have asthma and am also allergic to both bee stings and latex. I am also a small business owner who sells specialty soaps and seasonal wreaths — in large part to help pay for the very expensive medications I need for my asthma and allergies.

I am supposed to carry an EpiPen with me at all times to avoid hospitalization for my severe allergies. I am 66 years old and recently switched to Medicare. I can’t believe how expensive my EpiPens are on Medicare — over $250 each and every time. Because of the price, I have a difficult time refilling my prescription.

There have been times where I could not afford to carry an EpiPen and ended up hospitalized with anaphylactic shock after being exposed to latex.

I have worked hard my entire life, giving back to my community as a detective and teacher and was looking forward to my retirement. I had no idea how crippling the costs of both my EpiPen and inhaler would be. I now rely on my small business sales in order to be able to afford the cost of my prescriptions. 

It is unfair that seniors like myself should have to worry as much as I do to afford our prescriptions. I shouldn’t have to spend my retirement praying that my small business sales go well so that I can finally purchase my EpiPen. It isn’t right. Something has to change. Drug prices must be lowered now.

My name is Kris Garcia and I’m from Denver, Colorado. I have four bleeding disorders, asthma, and several allergies. Having multiple bleeding disorders, including hemophilia, leaves me in a constant position of uncertainty. I have to be incredibly careful, as any emergency can quickly turn into both a health and financial crisis. Since cauterization is more difficult with my bleeding disorders, I rely on Humate-P should an emergency occur. But the astronomical cost of these drugs only increases the stress of an emergency. Each vial of Humate-P costs $10,000, and for each infusion, I would need four vials.

These costs create a high level of stress for me and have exacerbated health costs for surgeries. When I had tonsil surgery a few years ago, the cost ended up being $1.8 million before insurance as I needed infusions every day and ended up staying in the hospital for a month and a half. The toll such a medical experience takes on someone is taxing enough; the financial burden only makes such a situation more stressful.

I keep four vials in the fridge, but should anything happen, I only have these four doses –– and anything beyond that would put me in financial ruin. Compared to other conditions, little is known about bleeding disorders, so finding a remedy can often be difficult. I’ve found one that has worked for me for the past 20 years, but unless I am receiving grants to cover the costs, there is no way I could afford these treatments. 

Additionally, I’m stuck with a decision between high financial costs and risking my health when deciding whether to buy EpiPens for my allergies. The price of EpiPens has increased greatly over recent years and now costs about $600 for two EpiPens. Even with insurance, I would be paying $180 out of pocket. Comparatively, with my current coverage, an ER visit costs about $200. When budgets are tight, I’m left with a terrible decision –– do I play Russian roulette with my life and not buy the EpiPens to save that money, or do I take the risk that I may have to go to the ER should an emergency occur? I shouldn’t be left deciding which is the lesser of two evils, whether to pay for an expensive treatment or to risk my health to save on cost.

The cost of these prescriptions has affected many decisions in my life. I had to give up my business and seek other employment because of how expensive my insurance and medications were. Switching jobs becomes scary since my medications are often only available at special pharmacies, which are not always covered. I currently am insured through my work for an airline, but have a likely furlough coming in September. I’m incredibly concerned about where my coverage will come from, especially if I were to have an emergency. 

I shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of a medical emergency also bringing financial ruin to me and my family. These astronomical drug prices have affected decisions in my life and have created a fear of financial ruin. Manufacturers get tons of government funds to produce drugs, but still profit off their patents and charge us unreasonable prices. We need changes to reduce these unaffordable prices so that people like me don’t live in a state of constant fear of whether we’ll be able to access our prescriptions.

My name is Karen Macedon and I’m a longtime resident of Sacramento, California, a mom to three and grandmom to seven , and a waitress. I At 58, I’m looking forward to retiring in the future and spending more time with my family —perhaps going on a cruise or two, as I love to travel.

I live with asthma, allergies, and type 2 diabetes, and my drug costs are standing in the way of leading a full life.   

My doctor thought that Symbicort would be the best medication to manage multiple breathing conditions, but my insurer refused to cover it –– and I learned, standing at the pharmacy counter, that it would cost $200. I realized then that I would never be able to get the drug I needed and suffered without it for a time. Suddenly, I learned it was covered again. I don’t know how long this will last, and I hope every day I won’t get another shock at the pharmacy counter.

Doctors prescribed bydureon for my diabetes. Conveniently, it is a once-weekly injection. Because my insurance wouldn’t cover it at all I have to wait on samples from my doctor. I’m grateful for the samples, but I wish I wasn’t forced to depend on them. I would not be able to take this medication if I had to pay for it myself, it is simply too expensive. I was recently given a coupon to get a discounted rate and four vials for free, but I am still worried about when those vials run out. It’s all a guessing game.

My health care costs add up. I have to get needles for my Lantus insulin; I have copays to see my specialty doctors. And then I am faced with high drug prices. I just want to be able to enjoy my time and not have trouble breathing or managing my blood sugar. Patients like me deserve better.