My name is Ronnie Rountree and I’m from Waycross, Georgia. Every 90 days, I owe $450 for 11 medications to treat the five conditions I live with: glaucoma, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arthritis. Including the Social Security and pension I receive from the state of Georgia, my income is about $2,500 a month. So $450 is a big financial stretch for a retiree like me. In order to afford the prescription drugs I need now, I cut back on food I want to eat –– I get by by only eating the food I truly need to survive, and what I can afford.
The most expensive of my drugs are my eye drops. To afford these drugs that treat pressure and pain and help to preserve my vision, I pay $135 every 90 days for Cosopt, Alphagan, and Travatan. And that cost is very unpredictable –– every three months when the bill comes, I’m constantly worried that the prices might have been raised this time.
The question crosses my mind every day: “What’s going to come up tomorrow?” I was just recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and additional lung issues, which might require even more medications. I’m constantly worrying and stressing about my budget, scared to spend money since I don’t know how much more I will need to spend on my medications.
I do know we should have cheaper drugs in the United States. People in other countries are able to get drugs for lower prices, so I know it can be done. I want my elected representatives to do something about drug prices. Please, care for retired people like me. Lower the prices of our prescription drugs.
My name is Ken and I’m from Gibsonia, PA. I live with an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma, as well as atrial fibrillation and a number of other health conditions.
Thankfully, my multiple myeloma is in remission so I am not currently taking Revlimid, a popular but expensive treatment. But I used to pay about $1,100 out-of-pocket every month for it while my insurance was billed another $8,000. I’m not eligible for the drug company’s patient assistance programs, so if I relapse and need to get back on Revlimid, I’ll be facing about $16,000 in out-of-pocket payments next year.
Even in remission for my cancer, I still find myself in the Medicare donut hole. I’m not getting assistance for the other medications I take, and my drug and other health care costs are piling up quickly. Just one drug I need, Eliquis, costs me $328 for a 90-day supply, and I spend about $150 every three months for several eye drops that help treat my glaucoma. I’ve also spent about $15,000 on hearing aids. Looking further down the road, I will probably need a pacemaker as well.
I worked as a teacher of computer technology for 38 years, so I have a guaranteed pension and have been able to make my payments so far. However, these exorbitantly high drug prices have forced me to make some difficult choices. I had to sell one of my cars and take out a home equity loan in order to pay for my medications. I also cut back where I can on everyday necessities, like phone and internet services.
The average person can’t afford prices like this, especially those living on a fixed income. There’s only so much money to go around, and I live with the possibility that I may one day not be able to access all the drugs I need due to these high prices. But I try not to think about that because it really wears on my mind. All I can do right now is take things day by day.
Drug companies keep playing with the numbers and finding ways to make more money any way they can. It seems like they keep increasing their prices in anticipation of the implementation of minor cost-cutting measures. I hear lawmakers say they want to help Americans with prescription drug costs, but I need to see them work on legislation that meaningfully lowers drug prices for all of us. We need help now.