Crippling Out of Pocket Costs on Prescription Drugs Hurt Patients

May 20, 2015

By Lynne Graziano Morin, Senior Advocacy Manager, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

lynn morinWe all know that Greater Boston is a mecca for innovation and scientific development. It’s almost part of the state’s DNA. Thanks to the work that is going on in our own backyard, new drugs are available to patients and saving lives.

While the costs to develop these drugs are high, the cost of not developing them is measured in something much more valuable than money — human lives. These are medications that countless patients rely on. As someone who has worked in patient outreach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I frequently helped patients navigate an often confusing cancer journey.

And in my new role as a Senior Advocacy Manager for LLS, I hear stories about the struggles patients face. I’ve listened many times, as patient after patient talks about the crippling out-of-pocket costs associated with the prescription drugs they take to treat their blood cancer – even with insurance coverage.

Unfortunately insurers often place these life-saving medications on the highest tiers of their drug formularies, forcing patients to pay as much as 50 percent of the cost of the actual drug. These patients are often filled with fear upon hearing their diagnosis. Patients wonder if the treatment plan their doctor prescribes will work, or if there will be unpleasant side effects to deal with. The last thing these patients need is an added worry about whether they can afford their medication.

It’s an untenable predicament, and one that Massachusetts legislators can do something about by supporting Sen. Anthony Petrucelli’s bill SB541 – An Act concerning out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drug coverage that places a limit on how much a patient will have to pay out of pocket for any one prescription drug.

LLS – like other patient advocacy organizations — is dedicated to supporting research into promising new therapies. That’s why LLS not only invests funds to accelerate innovative, life-saving treatments and cures for blood cancer, but we also work to ensure that blood cancer patients have access to the best available treatment today. We work to ensure that blood cancer patients can get the right care, at the right place, at the right time.

I would like to encourage all of those in the biosciences to contact lawmakers and educate them as to why this legislation is necessary.


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