I never thought cancer drug crisis would be knocking on my door. In my five-year journey, everything had been rosy. I received charitable foundation funding for Tarceva straight away, got admitted in a clinical trial on first attempt, and was offered another foundation funding for Tagrisso without any effort on my part. Awesome things just kept falling on my lap.
Then crisis struck. I had just completed my fourth month on Tagrisso and called the pharmacy for the fifth month refill when the boom fell. We have a problem, said the specialty pharmacy employee (SP) over the phone. She continued, The HealthWell Foundation ran out of money to help you with your co-pay.
What? I recently recently donated to the HealthWell fund-raising campaign. Obviously the campaign did not raise enough money. My pittance of a donation did not not make a difference.
I asked SP, Will you ship my Tagrisso pills without receiving payment first? I promise to pay as soon as I decide which bank provides the most conducive robbery escape route. Of course not, she said. You need to pay $101.85 in advance to cover your co-pay for the month supply. The amount shocked me. I could have used that to pay my smartphone bill. I got to thinking, How much would it have been if HealthWell totally did not contribute? I asked SP. She replied, $653.24 for a month’s supply. My shock increased sixfold! I immediately paid the lower amount just in case the worse has yet to come. UPS delivered Tagrisso pills to my home two days later.
To give me hope for the immediate future, SP told me she got financial assistance request forms from Astra Zeneca (AZ), the manufacturer of Tagrisso. She gave the forms directly to my Onc. He had to fill out a part and I had to do the rest. To complete my portion, I had to request documents from the IRS to prove that I did not have to file income tax returns for 2016, the year my husband Octo died. I qualified for filing exemption as a newly-widowed taxpayer. According to the IRS website, most requests take 10 days processing time.
With exactly 13 pills left (of the 30 pills for which I had sprung $101.85) and a ten-day wait for the IRS response, the co-pay subsidy situation seemed bleak. Where would I get $7,800 a year for my co-pay? I twiddled my thumbs then glanced at the mirror to see how my hair, which I’m letting grow longer, looked.
I kept wishing the IRS would reply faster so I could put its document in the envelop along with my financial assistance application and mail it to AZ before my Tagrisso supply dwindled to zero.
Then suddenly, out of the blue, my Onc Dr Smiley’s RN phoned and told me Dr Smiley received authorization to prescribe Tagrisso for me. AZ will fill it for free! She added, All you need to do is drop by and sign a document. I will fax it back to AZ immediately.
What?!! Is another awesome thing fixing to fall on my lap?
I will keep you posted of the developments. I have a very few Tagrisso pills left.
Do you have a similar situation? Let’s talk about it.
The Author, Celia Ruiz Tomlinson, just figured out how to do a caption. Hah!