WORTH REPEATING: America’s Drug Problem

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PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE: I was at the end of the long table in the conference room when I realized the drugs had become a problem.

As I tried to focus on the presentation — some suit droning on about tax benefits and pricing tiers — I zoned out, and my face became flushed. Burning-hot rage pulsed across my skin, crackled down to my fingertips, then shot back. I wasn’t sure I could make it out of the room without doing something I’d regret.

I’d always known that it could come to this — that the compounds I’d been injecting all these years could have consequences. Back then, even though I knew vaguely how much it all “cost,” someone else was always picking up the tab. And because I liked how the drugs made me feel — safe — I didn’t ask too many questions. You can’t put a price tag on security.

But suddenly, there was a price tag. And a big one. Specifically: 20 percent co-insurance after deductible.

This was going to get expensive.

I’m on drugs for multiple sclerosis and have been since 2004. MS meds are what are called maintenance drugs, meaning you take them daily or weekly from the moment of diagnosis till death or untenable side effects do you part. They’re also some of the most jaw-droppingly expensive drugs on the market. Today, in 2019, the four different name-brand medications I’ve been prescribed at different points in my treatment list for between $75,816 and $98,899. Per year. MORE