Saturday, October 2, 2010

Taking a deep breath...

Ok, so the issue of cost of Gilenya has been weighing heavily on my mind for as long as I have been having such great results. I knew it wouldn't be as cheap as say my Estradiol (which I get for $17.99/mo) but was never expecting $48000/year as mentioned in my previous blog entry, either.

Thank goodness someone is thinking straight and had the presence of mind to call Novartis and try to get the info straight from the horse's mouth. The Queen put her foot down (see profile pic at link) and demanded to know the one true answer. Here's the queen's comment from the last post (in case you don't want to bother with all that clicking and scrolling):

I read a little more on this today [regarding the topic of my last post], and the person giving the info has no relationship with Novartis, he's just a stock market analyst commenting on stock. He says Novartis could charge as much as $40,000. Well, they could. Doesn't mean they will. I called the Gilena line and the woman there said two things: 1)she couldn't give me the exact price and 2) she suggested Novartis has a very generous assistance program if I couldn't afford it. I started to laugh and asked,"Do you know of anyone who could afford to pay over $100 PER PILL?" and she laughed. I was encouraged after I spoke with her.

I suppose that's why she's The Queen, taking that logical, level headed approach and all. Thanks for calming me down.

So, here's my plan. I got a link in a Google Alerts email I have set up, and found that Novartis has launched a brand spanking new website for their baby: .

I signed up to be updated on new information and to allow them to contact me. During the sign up process, one of the questions asked was about the current therapy I was on. One of the choices was Gilenya. They then asked how long I had been on it, giving me several choices to choose from -- 3-4years being among them.

This tells me that they are interested in contacting us lab rats and getting our input on our personal experience. I found that interesting. If they call I may just direct them here and tell them to start from the beginning. Make them work for the info. Muahahahahaha.

Also at their website is a pdf of the:

GILENYA™ (je-LEN-yah)

Here's the link:

I just noticed, while reading what I have copied/pasted above, that once again I have already been mispronouncing a medication name.  "je-LEN-yah" sounds even stupider than the "gill-EEN-yah" I had been saying. Oh well, maybe that's Swiss for "cure". Hopefully not for "suck you dry of all you money and worldly possessions."

There is a phone number, address and email listed to contact them regarding je-LEEN-yah and without further ado, here they are:

1-888-NOW-NOVA (1-888-669-6682)
Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm EST

Customer Interaction Center
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
One Health Plaza
East Hanover, NJ 07936-1080

Email (actually a contact form):

I plan on calling them Monday to pick their brains and see who I need to kneel before and beg for free medication for all of the test subjects (and here's the kicker) REGARDLESS of income or insurance coverage.

I have heard stories among the various trial participants of some of us getting reimbursed travel money for getting to testing sites. Not only have I NOT gotten reimbursed, I have been billed many times over for tests performed as part of this study, with the ophthalmology department being the most consistently guilty of this practice.

I know I read the informed consent and agreed to their terms that I would not reap any benefits beyond the possible health benefits due to the medication, but I'm talking about the morality and compassion of the issue here.

I think congress needs to be lobbied on behalf of clinical trial patients everywhere to make it a law that if a medication gains FDA approval those who risked their lives in the name of medical advances should be granted free access for life to that medication regardless of their financial status or insurance coverage.

If this were law, you might even find that the attraction of joining a trial would increase and there would be even more test subjects available to expedite the advancement of future medications.

I don't know how to go about lobbying for this, and maybe there aren't that many folks who agree with me or would be as passionate on the subject, but there MUST be someone out there who either knows, or knows someone who knows, how to go about turning this into one of those made for TV movies based on a real life drama and get the action needed to see this as more than a pipe dream (or pipeLINE dream, get it?) and have it be reality.

I truly believe everyone has a purpose in life. Our mission is to discover it and see it through. Maybe I have finally found my calling. Anyone with me on this?

Here is a formal call out to anyone out there who knows how to get started on this. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and any info that could point me in the right direction. In the meantime I'll go google how to get a law passed. I knew I should have paid more attention in Political Science class.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Here's the highlights from the prescribing info sheet for which we all got poke prodded and inspected to provide the data.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gilenya to cost $48000 per year!!

Holy CRAP!

What I want to know, oh You Who Run Novartis Yet Do Not Yourself Suffer From MS, is how you people can sleep at night.

Give us a pill which will change our life -- mind you NOT CURE MS so we can be done with it, but merely give us hope and ease our suffering in such a way as to make us Fingolimod junkies for life -- and then try to make us pay $4000 a MONTH for it?? I KNEW when I saw those souped up pill container prototypes in that survey I was asked to take that you would be pulling this. Didn't I say just that?

This really ticks me off. It's the height of greed. I realize the trials were huge and cost tons of money, but production is going to be cheap. There are no syringes to supply, no medication to keep refrigerated. You know as well as I do that you will recover your testing costs within probably the first year on the market. This is just OBSCENE! I can't even begin to put into words how disappointed I am.

Do you think people with MS are just all rich or something? How dare you take advantage of our condition that way. To bring a pill to market -- sure, so you can profit, I get the goal -- but to make it so astronomically priced as to only be a cruel tease for those of us who can't afford it.

It was mentioned in the article that there are assistance programs for those who can't afford it. Well here's a novel idea you can do a clinical trial about... see how much further your drug goes to help people when you price it affordably to start with.