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

Surrey RCMP looking to identify Fleetwood robbery suspect

Alleged incident happened in the 15900-block of Fraser Highway, police say

PHOTOS: Sold-out Surrey party raises $1.35M in ‘Celebration of Care’ at hospital

Hollywood-style event attracted close to 700 people to Aria Convention Centre

Naked driver leads Langley, Surrey RCMP on hit and run spree

A Kelowna man has been charged with numerous offences

Surrey reduces cab business licence fees to match ride-hailing industry

Meantime, Surrey Board of Trade petition asks government to remove ‘archaic’ taxi boundaries

New book rounds up stories about landmark Surrey diner

Springenatic family marks 60 years of Round Up Café ownership

VIDEO: Feds warned agricultural sector near ‘tipping point’ due to blockades

Canadian Federation of Agriculture points to lack of propane and feed due to Coastal GasLink dispute

Fraser Valley couple wins $500K after finding scratch-and-win while moving

Robert Walters and Lois Gueret of Agassiz win half a million from Scrach & Win ticket

Six Wet’suwet’en supporters arrested during blockade of Vancouver port: police

This latest blockade had gone on for nearly 24 hours in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

‘Intemperate, insulting’: B.C. teacher reprimanded for online comments about religion

John William Yetman made the comments in response to a Facebook invitation to Open Mosque Day B.C.

High-risk sex offender, who triggered protests in Fraser Valley, back in court

Chilliwack residents wanted James Conway gone from residential neighbourhood two years ago

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

UPDATE: 14 arrested at blocked rail line in northern B.C., police say

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

Hospital parking fees needed, but changes to payment system possible, health minister says

B.C. health minister Adrian Dix says hospital parking doesn’t need to be so stressful

Most Read