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LTE: Drug Affordability

Letter to the Editor: Drug affordability
Capital Gazette
October 1
Larry Zarzecki

Like many Marylanders, I struggle to pay for the prescription drugs I need to deal with Parkinson’s disease and lead the healthiest possible life. For months, I have tried to meet with my state senator, Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr., R-Queen Anne’s, to explain to him why he and the General Assembly must act. He has continually declined to meet with me. Here is what I want to tell him.

After serving as a police officer in Maryland for many years, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which was slowing my movements and causing anxiety, fatigue and tremor. My doctor prescribed seven different medications costing about $3,800 per month with insurance coverage — an amount that is all but impossible for me to cover.

The worst part is that the best medications for this disease cost substantially more each month, making them completely unaffordable. It is extremely frustrating that I cannot take advantage of the drugs that hold the best chance for helping me. I’m fighting two battles: one against Parkinson’s and one against the drug industry.

At times, I have gone without medication when my insurance no longer covered the prescribed drug. When I don’t have access to some of my medications, withdrawal produces major physical problems for me and I cannot perform many basic tasks.

Legislation being proposed next year in the General Assembly would create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to set fair and affordable costs for higher-cost drugs. I hope Senator Hershey and all Eastern Shore legislators will join me.

LARRY ZARZECKI

Chester