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

Young Ucluelet local earns Indigenous Language Revitalization Diploma

Timmy Masso hasn’t entered Grade 12 yet, but he’s already secured a University of Victoria diploma.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Big Beach parties spark concern in Ucluelet

“You find needles, left over party debris, bottles and still burning fires.”

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Most Read