Latest News | Sep 21, 2020

Making sacrifices so my husband can breathe.

My name is Cheryl and I live in Maine. When my husband, Harold, was prescribed Spiriva to manage his COPD three years ago, we were grateful there was a medication that could effectively manage his symptoms and allow him to continue to work. But we were shocked when we found out the medication would cost us $1,200 every three months. We simply can’t afford that, but Harold needs the medication. 

We were forced to make choices no one should ever have to make — keep paying for electricity, or pay for Harold’s medication? Buy healthy groceries, or pay for Harold’s medication? For us, there was no option. We kept paying the $1,200 and stopped paying for our electricity. We stopped buying meat and other nutritious food and stuck to canned soups and noodles, all so my husband could breathe. 

We are lucky — after a year, we were able to qualify for a plan that covers much of Harold’s expenses for the Spiriva. It has meant we can return to life more or less as normal. But we are at the mercy of the assistance program and it will stop at the end of the year. That means we will be faced with applying all over again, a process that took a full year last time. Come January, we might be back where we were before — making sacrifices so Harold can breathe. 

Without Spiriva, Harold would not be able to work as a farmhand growing potatoes in our home state of Maine. We would be dependent on my salary from managing a local McDonald’s. We have a good life. We like our jobs, and we are proud of our hard work. But right now we know our lives could change as soon as the financial assistance ends. I live in fear of that day. 

No one should have to make the choices we have. We need drug prices to come down now.

My name is Janet Schaeffer and my hometown is Grants Pass, Oregon. I have come to love this community throughout my years of being an in-home caregiver in our area. I loved my job and took pride in caring for the elderly. Unfortunately, I had to retire when my health declined. 

I have COPD, a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult  to breathe. My doctor prescribed me an Anoro Ellipta inhaler to treat my symptoms. When I went to pick it up, I found out that the inhalers retail at about $500 a piece. My insurance covers $300 of it… leaving me with a whopping $200 to pay for out of pocket.

I need this medication, but as a retired woman on social security, I’m living on a fixed income. I can’t afford the $200 price tag, which means I can’t afford my inhaler. That means I can’t breathe well –– which means I can’t work, clean my own house, or garden and cook like I used to. My quality of life has declined immensely because I just can’t afford my medication.

I know there are countless others in our community that are experiencing the same thing. I also know that our lives would be greatly improved if our drug prices were lower, or if we could import our medications from across the border. We have all heard stories of patients crossing borders to get their medication at a fraction of the U.S. Price. It just doesn’t make sense that we are paying so much in comparison to our neighbors. What hurts me the most is thinking about the countless patients with diabetes, cancer, and chronic illnesses who are facing extreme costs for their medication just like I am. We need relief now.