Latest News | Jun 22, 2021

People like me are falling through the cracks

My name is Steven Alton, and I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am 69, a Medicare beneficiary and a veteran who has suffered from severe migraines for the last four years. 

My doctors and I don’t know why my migraines started to happen, but I do know that when a migraine comes on, my life is severely impacted. Migraines impair my eyesight and my balance. I suddenly can’t stand bright light. When they hit, I have to stay in a dark room lying down, sometimes for days. 

There is a medication that provides the relief I need to live my life. The drug is called Ubrevly, and 10 pills are priced as much as $3,000. Imagine that — 10 pills, $3,000. I simply can’t afford it. 

For an entire year, I jumped through hoops in order to get this medicine. I had to drive back and forth to my doctor’s office for free samples to treat my migraines. Eventually, I found out that through my insurance I owed  $216 for 10 pills. As a senior on a fixed income, that is still a massive expense for me. 

I’ve managed to come up with the money, but it isn’t easy. A friend from church paid for my first batch of Ubrelvy because I couldn’t afford it, and my church community paid for my second box. I then used my $1,400 COVID stimulus money to buy a third box. 

People like me are falling through the cracks and suffering all while Big Pharma maximizes profits. High drug prices are killing senior citizens and veterans, and pharma leaders don’t seem to care. That’s why we need immediate action from our lawmakers. Medicare should be negotiating the prices of our prescription drugs.

My name is Sherry and I’m from Oro Valley, AZ. I take a drug called Topamax to treat my intense migraines, but it’s so expensive that I have to cut down on other areas of my life.

I’ve been taking Topamax for 25 years, and back then, I remember paying around $50 for a 30-day supply. These days, it costs about $280 out-of-pocket for a three-month supply, even after insurance coverage. I have to continue using the brand-name drug because the generic doesn’t control my migraines as well. 

I don’t have any choice but to keep using Topamax because it really reduces the number of migraines I get. Without this medication, I’m completely non-functioning. My migraines can last for up to four days and prevent me from working and carrying out my daily routines. When I get a migraine, the lights are blinding and I’m constantly nauseous. It feels impossible to think and it’s even painful to lie down — you don’t want your head to touch anything. Topamax allows me to live a more normal life.

Topamax is the most expensive medication I take, but I’ve seen the prices of my other drugs increase as well. Ascomp with codeine, another medication for headaches, costs $30 for a month’s supply even though it used to cost $5. Similarly, Synthroid now costs $20 instead of $6 for a 90-day supply. These expenses take a big hit on my budget and make it impossible to put money away for emergencies.

Drug companies are ripping off older people simply because they can. I’m sick and tired of working for what I have and losing everything because I need to pay for my medications. And yet it doesn’t feel like anyone is paying attention to this issue. It’s time for our lawmakers to take care of America’s seniors and work on getting drug prices down once and for all.