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

Nanaimo Airport’s $14-million expanded terminal officially opens

Departure lounge, security and baggage areas improved

Nanaimo athletes shine at B.C. Winter Games

Youths from Nanaimo win 19 of Vancouver Island team’s 44 medals

Officials say no drought worries with below-normal snowpack

Snow pillow nearest to Nanaimo at 69 per cent of normal levels, says B.C. government official

Affordable apartments planned for Nanaimo’s Brechin Hill neighbourhood

Proposed development would be near Terminal Park plaza and B.C. Ferries’ Departure Bay terminal

Storm score a Game 2 win against Buccaneers

VIJHL playoff series between Nanaimo and Campbell River tied 1-1

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Francophone festivities in Nanaimo this weekend

French Canadian culture and cuisine highlight Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre d’Érable

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Most Read