I never thought I would have to worry about this.

Hi, my name is Barbara Bendix and I am from Kingsburg, California. I am now 77 years old and I’m doing my best to enjoy my retirement. I share a house with my sister, and we are lucky to be close by other members of our family.

I worked in restaurants for most of my life and really enjoyed my work. However, I was forced to retire in November 2018 when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. This created massive change in my life, and I suddenly had to account for massive health care costs.

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“I am grateful for innovation that helps me to stay alive, but if a pill is priced at $500, there is no point to that innovation, because most people can’t afford it.”

- Barbara Bendix

After I was diagnosed, I was put on the drug Revlimid, which ended up working for me. But Revlimid costs $500 per pill, and I am supposed to take it twice a day. I have insurance at this time through Medicare, and they wouldn’t even cover all of the cost. I am lucky enough to receive assistance from the manufacturer, but I don’t know how long that will last. I fear for the day that I won’t receive patient assistance any longer — without it, I would not be able to take my medication at all.

Because my disease is incurable and evolving, eventually the Revlimid will stop working and I will have to start taking a new medication regimen. I am grateful for innovation that helps me to stay alive, but if a pill is priced at $500, there is no point to that innovation, because most people can’t afford it. I know I wouldn’t be able to afford that. Patients deserve to receive treatment without selling their homes or rationing their food.

I never thought I would have to worry about this so much in my retirement, but I do not have the security I thought I would have. I am sharing my story to advocate for all Californians who are facing surprise health conditions. I know that many of my neighbors are also facing a similar plight against high drug prices and worry for their futures. As a community member, I share my story with you all today to show how drug pricing is a public health issue, and I ask that my representatives take a stand to lower drug prices today.