Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Hello, I happened to read your article where Dorothy was disappointed that her friend could not afford Genentech’s MS (multiple sclerosis) drug, Ocrevus.

Can you please share with your readers that Genentech and many other drug companies offer patient assistance programs to help ensure that their medicines are as accessible as possible even without insurance?

It’s a shame that many patients don’t get medicines they need due to their providers being uneducated about programs such as Genentech’s: gene.com/patients/patient-access

I am not employed by Genentech nor do I represent them. I am simply a concerned citizen who works in the biopharma sector and son of an MS patient. Thank you.

Jason M.

Tom: Our best wishes for your parent, Jason, and thank you for the valuable information. I looked on the Genentech website and found:

“Patient assistance support is for eligible patients in the United States who don’t have insurance coverage or who can’t afford out-of-pocket co-pay costs.

We have been providing assistance to patients since our first medicine was approved in 1985. To date, we have helped more than 1.2 million patients.”

Al: They also mention the GATCF (Genentech Access to Care Foundation) that has provided free medicine to 25,000 patients.

To get started, the website “Access Solutions” and the phone: 1-866-4ACCESS are given.

Browsing the website led me to State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs. Evidently, we’ve had one in California since 2007. CVS is the preferred pharmacy, although many others are available.

The California Rx Card has no enrollment requirements and the website indicates there could be savings of up to 75 percent on some medications.

So…I went on californiarxcard.com and looked up Ocrevus.

In Napa, the “discounted” price at my local CVS is $169,657 for 10 vials of 300mg/10ml. A few other pharmacies had it at $171,600. Not exactly great news, but at least they’ve heard of it.

Tom: Since both of us are in our annual slog with America’s Health Insurance Plans to renew our certification to sell Medicare prescription drug plans, it will be interesting to see which, if any, companies have Ocrevus on their formulary for 2018.

As of today, July 21, Ocrevus is not on the formulary for Humana or for AARP (United Health Care), or for Anthem Blue Cross.

Al: Of course my wife and I have our tickets for the Reid Family Vineyards fourth annual Crush MS fundraiser on Saturday, July 29, from 3 to 6 p.m. Along with the support of many local wineries, one of the major sponsors is Genentech.

There will be music, wine pouring, many auction items, Lagunitas beer (yay!), food, ice cream and lots of good people.

Our daughter will be with us and we’re hoping to get the very latest news on research and what’s being done now to help “crush” MS.

Hope to see you there!

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Submit questions at schrette@gmail.com or alancash@gmail.com.