By Anne Michaud
For those who believe in the Affordable Care Act's promise of more humane coverage for more people, the recent news about drug costs is discouraging.
The most effective drugs for some of the most serious diseases -- cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, mental illness -- can cost individuals who can least afford it thousands of dollars a month in copays. In some cases, desperate people are going without the medicines that could save their lives.
Dr. William Harvey of the American College of Rheumatology recently told this story to a congressional panel: A 30-year-old Wisconsin mom with rheumatoid arthritis cannot afford the best treatment -- known as a biologic -- because of high copays and deductibles.
The woman's hands and feet were deteriorating, becoming stiff and swollen. She was trying to ease the pain with an anti-inflammatory drug, prednisone, but was having trouble caring for her children, and soon she might lose her job.