If you watch pretty much any TV at all, you’ve heard that tag line at the end of many pharmaceutical commercials. It might apply to any therapy, but it really applies to astronomically priced biotech drugs recently approved by the FDA for various cancers and other extremely serious diseases.
This post is intended to help patients navigate their way through that system – a road map for acquiring the assistance that is available to them and vital to their survival.
As mentioned the other day, the novel specialty drug – Erleada – prescribed as part of my pharmaceutical cocktail, carries an eye-popping list price of $13,407 per month, and I’m likely to be on it for the rest of my life – or at least until it stops working.
Now, rest easy. We’re doing financially OK here at Rolling With The Punches Central, but it wouldn’t take long for that kind of money to shift us into not-really-doing-so-OK-anymore territory. As an insurance expert at our oncology specialist’s office said: “No one can afford that kind of money.”
So, that angel, Miss Rebecca, jumped right on it. It took her less than two days to find a foundation that immediately agreed to shoulder co-pays for Erleada. And the other specialty drugs I’m taking. And any prostate cancer-related co-pays charged by physicians, including the doctors in Rebecca’s own office.
Everything. It is picking up any and every co-pay related to anything medically or pharmaceutically related to prostate cancer. The assistance remains in effect through the calendar year. According to Rebecca, it will be renewed without complication every year from now on.
Can I get a universal “Wow?”
This organization is called The Assistance Fund (TAF). It’s been around since 2009 and has helped 135,000 children and adults. It’s supported by numerous donors, large and small.
This is the first thing you see on TAF’s home page:
“We’re Here to Help. No one should go without treatment because of an inability to pay. That’s why we work every day to ensure you can access the treatment you need. See if you are eligible for one of our more than 70 disease programs.”
Note that it serves people dealing with many diseases, not just prostate cancer. Individuals can apply, though I’m thinking it’s more promising to have an expert in this sort of thing – your version of my doctor’s Rebecca – apply for you.
Here’s the link:
And here’s the thing: TAF is one of many such organizations. Some are funded directly by pharmaceutical firms, others by organizations similar to TAF or by some states or by some insurance companies. Military veterans have special access to similar programs. Google is your friend – if you find yourself in this situation, which I hope you do not, search for your drug’s name and “financial assistance.”
All of this said, be prepared to be your own advocate.
I noticed on the specialty pharmacy’s website that my Erleada prescription – written a week ago Monday with something of a sense of urgency by our oncology expert – had been in a holding pattern since Friday. I called the pharmacy first thing this morning. The reason for the delay: A missing digit in The Assistance Fund’s BIN code as submitted to the pharmacy.
Luckily, that information was on the confirmation of coverage TAF sent me last week. We fixed it. It’s cool now. The stuff is being FedEx’ed straight to our house and should be here tomorrow, followed every month by refills. (It’s unclear how long the delay might have persisted if I had not made that call today.)
The lesson: Seek assistance at every turn, but remain alert and involved. Balls will get dropped, and you’ll need to pick them up and toss them back into play.
Also pharmaceutically, we had a pioneering moment last night. During the evening news, we saw a pharmaceutical commercial we’d seen a gazillion times without giving it much thought. When it ended, we suddenly realized: “Hey. That’s us!” First time that ever happened.
It was a commercial for Prolia, the bone-strengthening injections recently added to the menu.