My name is Winston Stone and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1989 at the age of 38. One of the most difficult parts around having this condition is how quickly medical costs –– especially the cost of prescription drugs –– add up. I’m on five different Crohn's medications and one other drug that helps me with high blood pressure.
These medications total to just under $1,000 a month, a huge financial strain on my family. My 21 year old son is in college, and he’s already beginning to feel the pressure because he knows, at the end of his collegiate career, he’ll have to help his parents out as we are beginning to feel overwhelmed by these high drug prices.
Having Crohn's Disease makes it difficult for me to work, travel, gather with friends, and complete other regular tasks that consume most people’s time. Some time after my diagnosis, I had to leave my full-time job as a warranty administrator, where I had been since 1986, because it became too difficult to focus on work while I was constantly having to attend to my Crohn’s symptoms. Now that I’ve made strides in managing my symptoms and have been on all of these medications, I feel ready to start applying for a full time role again. Unfortunately, job hunting is difficult when you can’t even afford access to the internet you need to submit your resume.
I’m currently working part-time as a tour guide across the many historical sights that Massachusetts has to offer. I love what I do and I get to go to work with my wife every day. I get to meet new and interesting people from all around the world. I love being able to interact with young students who get a rush from learning a bit of our nation’s history. So, while I love my current occupation, working part-time makes it very difficult to pay my bills. If I can’t pay for my prescriptions, I’m not able to cope with my symptoms, and if I’m not coping with my symptoms, I can’t return to full time work –– it’s a vicious cycle.
In the Medicare coverage gap, I pay $172 for Apriso which is used to prevent some of the symptoms of Crohn's from recurring. Mercaptopurine, which reduces my immune response, costs $76 a month. Humira, my most costly medication, costs $600 per month. The combined monthly total for my medications is just under $1000, an unfathomable cost if you are only working part time.
That’s why I understand the importance of electing leaders who fight for lower prescription drug prices –– like Charlie Baker. I have confidence in Baker’s strong record on drug pricing, and worry that if one of his opponents wins, patients in Massachusetts will suffer even more than we already are.