I did receive your recent email with the offer to speak about our journey since Trevor’s diagnosis. I chose to take some time to think it over & to seek counsel from trusted friends. The feedback was mixed…as were my emotions. And in the end I never arrived at a peace point in my core. I did not mean to leave my answer hanging. I just wasn’t ready to move forward one way or the other.
But during these ensuing weeks a conclusion has been drawn for me.
We had been seeing some questionable movements from Trevor. So mild even the doctors were not convinced. But I have learned to trust my instinct…and pushed for testing.
I spent every moment of this past week hoping with each beat of my heart that this time my instinct was wrong. That Trevor’s Spasms had not returned. But…as I know you are already aware…a VEEG confirmed our worst nightmare. For the second time in his 17 months of life we are holding our broken baby boy. With shattered hearts. And unrestrained tears.
During the conference call with investors the evening of the JEC hearing you publicly shared that my testimony profoundly moved you. I have heard that you even played-back my testimony for your employees. Changes were promised. Changes that would help parents navigate through the pain of IS & gain access to your medication quickly. You celebrated Trevor’s quick response as a success for your company.
But while you were busy proclaiming success we could not assume the same care-free feeling. We have lived each day since Trevor’s diagnosis with the breath of the IS beast on our backs…just like every other family affected by this disease. Knowing that at any moment our son could fall prey to this devastating disorder again. The odds of 20-25% relapse mean very little to a parent whose child has already suffered a rare disease. And this week proved exactly why.
Allow me to share my second experience with your company…
September 8, 2008 – I received a phone call from a young man representing Questcor’s Acthar Support & Assistance Program. The very first question (and frankly…only) was regarding gathering insurance information. There was no empathy. Not even a scripted “I’m sorry your family is going through this”. It was all business. And that business was making sure our insurance (which is State Medicaid btw) would be footing the bill for Trevor’s treatment. In fact, I received multiple phone calls making sure the correct ID numbers were given.
Late that afternoon he called to inform me that the case was still in the works.
And as of 3pm today September 9, 2008…we are yet in a holding pattern. I have not received any phone calls from Acthar yet today. Although our nurse called afraid that perhaps she had done something wrong to delay the process. I assured her that the process should not be so complicated that she would even have to entertain that thought! At this point I doubt we will receive Trevor’s treatment by tomorrow? And even should it arrive tomorrow everything will still be delayed until Thursday because we need to make arraignments for a home nurse to be present. That will make it at least four days & 160 seizures from submission to injection.
Which leaves me with a very sour taste in my mouth. Similar to the taste I experienced about 8 months ago.
I am convinced we will never agree on the price point of ACTH. I readily admit my bias on the matter. And acknowledge that your experience on this issue undoubtedly exceeds mine. In fact, I can sooner converse in Swahili than understand the many complicated layers of this issue. And yet Providence has directed that we each have our horses in this race. Mine just happens to be a beautiful baby boy.
But there are certainly some areas outside of pricing with which I take issue…
I recently read a statement made by you stating that insurance denial is rare & that NORD is picking up the tab for the families who either do not have insurance or are denied coverage. Of course, again my objectivity is skewed by our personal battle with our insurance company during Trevor’s initial diagnosis.
But if it is true…and if you are indeed committed to making sure that every child in need of ACTH will get it…than I am having trouble understanding why the first priority is ensuring that insurance will be covering the bill? I cannot wrap my mind around why…in a situation as dramatically tragic as IS…your company cannot find a way to ship the drug & work out the payment arrangements later? I have been told that other drug companies have done this. With drugs less vital than ACTH. And you have emphatically stated that insurance denial is rare & that no child will go without this drug due to Questcor’s “generosity”.
And so it seems to me the attitude at Questcor is: Payment arrangements first – vital drug to desperate child after.
Again…I’m feeling the need to wash the sour from my mouth.
You argue that if the drug were not priced where it is today the company would go under…and ACTH would no longer be an option. This of course is not my intent. My issue has never been with the drug…but rather with the pricing & accessibility. I know first-hand that ACTH can provide a miracle.
And Questcor investors were quick to point out – $25,000 to cure her kid & she’s complaining!
Correction…that would be $25,000 PER vial & as I testified Trevor’s course required 5. So in actuality the bill tallied to over $125,000 for the 8 months of seizure freedom Trevor was given. But he was not cured. And yes I am complaining. Or rather…advocating.
I am advocating on behalf of the IS community as a whole. I am advocating for all the beautiful baby boys & girls afflicted with this disease. And those yet to be diagnosed.
They deserve access to this medication. Immediate…affordable… access. A little over “two day” turn around for your company is too long for a family holding a seizure ridden baby.
I am imploring you…look into the eyes of my son.
His beautiful eyes. Eyes that represent every baby living with Infantile Spasms.
Look into Trevor’s eyes & prove that you care. About him…more than the bottom line.
Prove it by making the turn-around time less than 24 hours from submission of paperwork to receipt of the medication. Every time. Prove it by spending more than 13% of your company’s profits to fund Research & Development. Invest more on finding a cure for Infantile Spasms than you do on employee wages. Prove it by under-writing projects like the Epilepsy Phenome-Genome Project which is in progress right now.
I have been told that you are a generous…kind-hearted…caring man.
Now I’m asking you to prove it.
From the heart of a mother…