Tristin Ozard, 21, receives an infusion of medication to treat Crohn’s disease. The medication, Remicade, costs his family about $8,000 a month but is the only one that works for him. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Ozard)

B.C. mom speaks out about paying $8,000/month for Crohn’s disease drug

Melissa Ozard has had to seek out help to pay for her son’s medication

A Saanich resident is speaking out about the cost of prescription drugs for her son after reading that many Canadians are borrowing money just to afford medication.

Melissa Ozard’s 21-year-old son, Tristin, has Crohn’s disease — a disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract and can lead to severe symptoms that can require hospitalization.

Tristin was diagnosed with the disease when he was eight years old.

After trying several medications that did not work for him and being in and out of the hospital, he was able to settle for one called Remicade.

Remicade costs about $8,000 per dose. For Tristin, it has brought him into remission.

READ MORE: B.C. residents rally for medication

The medication — which is made from living cell organisms — must be taken intravenously and takes about four hours to infuse. Tristin needs a dose of the medication every four weeks.

“He’s failed on every other drug before that, nothing else has worked,” said Melissa. “It used to be a last line of defense drug and on top of that, he needs more of it than the average person for it to work.”

She noted her son used to go to a clinic in Vancouver to receive the medication at a pediatric facility. At the time, the cost of the drug was completely covered.

Now that he has aged out of the pediatric system, he receives treatment on the Island, but the cost is no longer covered.

Ozard said PharmaCare originally offered to pay for half of his doses, leaving the family with a bill of about $4,000 a month to keep him on it.

However, PharmaCare has retracted their offer and as of August, said nothing would be covered, according to Melissa.

“They said his dose is too high … because he requires it every four weeks they won’t cover it at all,” she noted. “They found a loophole.”

READ MORE: Health committee cheers idea of national Pharmacare program, but cost an issue

Melissa and her husband put every dollar they have into Tristin’s medication and have even asked family and friends for help through a GoFundMe page.

“The issue for us is every month going to family members and saying ‘can you help us?’” she said. “It’s humiliating and horrific and we’re putting them in a horrible position.”

But they do what they need to for their son, who is enrolled in college courses and would not be able to afford the medication on his own.

On top of his Crohn’s diagnosis, Melissa said Tristin deals with mental illness and is receiving disability support from the province.

There is an option to get some coverage through a patient assistance program but she said her son would have to surrender all of his medical records to a pharmaceutical company and receive his medication at a private site instead of a hospital.

Tristin sees many doctors due to his mental illness and because of that, is not comfortable giving his medical records out.

The private sites, Melissa said, have also been known to not keep the medication he takes at the appropriate temperature necessary.

READ MORE: Federal budget fosters Pharmacare, pot-based drugs

“It’s too high a price to pay for some people,” she said. “He doesn’t want to use them, it scares him.”

However, if he goes off the medication, he would be hospitalized within weeks.

Melissa’s not sure what the solution is, but that she hopes more people learn about the cost of prescription drugs and consider how it may affect other people.

“He wants to do something with his life … This is an important issue.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

UPDATE: Fire above Sparwood no threat to community

Mayor David Wilks reported it may be due to an exposed coal seam

Conservative opposition critic tours through Kootenay riding on listening tour

Pierre Poilievre, the Tory finance critic, gathering local feedback on pandemic supports, recovery issues

EKC makes $5,000 donation to Elk Valley ultrasound campaign

The EKC challenged other businesses to help the campaign hit its $300,000 target

City of Fernie to extend pilot snow removal program

Councillors voted unanimously on Sep. 17 to extend the program due to a lack of data points and disruption due to the pandemic

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read