Viewpoints

Generic drugs save lives like mine. This bill will help make sure they’re available

Hear support and opposition to proposed health care bill

Assemblyman Jim Wood speaks in support of his bill AB 824. Brett Michelin, a lobbyist for the Association for Accessible Medicines, a group representing generics companies, speaks in opposition.
Up Next
Assemblyman Jim Wood speaks in support of his bill AB 824. Brett Michelin, a lobbyist for the Association for Accessible Medicines, a group representing generics companies, speaks in opposition.

My name is Cynthia Stockton. I am a 71-year-old senior living in Sacramento.

I have spent a lifetime wearing many hats: self-made college graduate, Army wife and a contributor to the workforce for more than 50 years, including 22 years spent working as a public servant for Sacramento County and 10 years managing senior communities. I had planned to write children’s books and create artwork for friends in my retirement.

The grand mal seizure arrived without warning. I was 63. It led to the discovery of a brain tumor and an operation to save my life. I lost my ability to walk.

Today, I’m a paraplegic. I’m retired and live on $28,000 per year. That means I am better off than the average Medicare beneficiary, who lives on just $26,000. My small pension means I don’t qualify for any assistance with my medications.

Because of the cost of my health care, including medications, I’ve been forced to ration them. I can afford to spend $100 a month on food. I have no savings. I have no investments. I sold my car. I have nothing. But I am alive, and I can still fight.

Opinion

Without my prescription drugs, my body will shut down and I’ll die. The list of prescription drugs I need is long: The Baclofen for incredibly painful muscle spasms costs me $33 twice a month. Dilantin, for treating seizures, costs $57 per month. The Ditropan costs $132 per month. Prozac, which is lifesaving because it helps me to maintain my mental health, typically costs $280 a month.

I also pay $135.50 per month for Medicare and $111.00 per month for a Kaiser health plan. All the while, I still have to pay for major prescriptions by myself. Just like I never expected to be living with paraplegia at my age, I never expected to be this overwhelmed as I seek to pay for the medications that help to mitigate my symptoms.

A lifelong student, I have tried to keep up with movements in the California Assembly that could help others struggling to afford prescription drugs.

An important bill called Assembly Bill 824 is flying under the radar, so I wanted to tell the public more about it.

It would address a scheme called “pay-for-delay,” an arrangement between a brand-name and generic drug companies in which the two strike deals worth millions and agree not to compete – hurting people like me, who are waiting for cheaper generics, while inflating big drug companies’ bottom lines. The bill would would “force drug companies to prove they aren’t engaging in anti-competitive behavior when they strike deals with companies that produce generic drugs,” according to a story in The Sacramento Bee.

AB 824 would be an important step our state lawmakers and attorney general could take on behalf of hardworking Californians.

I’ve worked hard all of my life.

All I ask of our politicians is that they help people like me live without fear that some day high drug prices won’t just empty my bank account, but end my life. I’ve come too far to allow Big Pharma to have that much power over me, and over all of us.

Cynthia Stockton is a Sacramento County widow.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments