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"Expensive". (The Last Word).

Expensive characterized by high price or cost that sometimes exceeds ... a prospective buyer's financial resources. Webster's Third New International Dictionary

The FDA's approval of Rebif brings yet another choice for people with MS in an expanding menu of treatment options. But for most of us the word that comes to mind is not options, but expensive.

We can argue that the expense is an illusion. The corporations that sell these medications offer people outstanding--and expensive support: telephone hotlines, training in injection technique, publications, educational conferences, savvy counseling about getting the most from insurance or pharmacy assistance programs, and limited financial assistance to the underinsured and overwhelmed.

Even so, we have an expensive truth: the high cost of these drugs is part of a pattern that terrifies taxpayers, insurance companies, and the business community. We are in a national health-care financing crisis as all the costs of health care rise.

Remedies all too often target prescription drugs. Some insurance plans have no drug coverage, some plans are reducing coverage, and some are shifting more costs to patients. The players include private insurance plans and public plans governed by the federal government or the states. To get fair treatment for people with expensive illnesses we need all the influence we can muster. I invite everyone to join us in advocating for:

* Federal legislation adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

* State legislation to retain coverage and fair co-payments for all effective MS treatments by Medicaid.

* State legislation for drug assistance programs. (Programs for low-income seniors exist in 32 states; only nine also cover low-income people of any age with disabilities.)

* Pair coverage of MS treatments by private insurance companies and health maintenance organizations.

I urge all of you to tell your stories to your doctor and your Society chapter. Find out what your chapter is doing about these issues. Working together, we can modify what expensive means as we continue our fight against this devastating disease.
COPYRIGHT 2002 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:prescription drug costs and pharmaceutical policy
Author:Dugan, Mike
Publication:Inside MS
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2002
Previous Article:About globetrotting anyway. (Let Me Tell You ...).
Next Article:A new look. (heads up).

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