Recently I had a conversation with fellow CML’er (chronic myelogenous leukemia) regarding the medications that are readily available to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia. Currently there are three of them; Gleevec (Imatinib), which was the very first medication, Tasigna (Nilotinib) which is the second generation and Sprycel (Dasatinib) the third generation drug. Of course all of these medications come with a very high price tag; I am talking thousands of dollars, each and every month, for the rest of our lives. I am not sure of the cost of Gleevec and Tasigna, as I am currently taking Sprycel, but I do know that the uninsured price tag of Sprycel is $15,986 a month. I believe that Gleevec is in the $5,000 range and Tasigna around $8,000 per month.
Of course this all depends upon your dosage and your insurance, but whatever the case, it is pretty darn pricey to stay alive! I am not entirely certain how the treatment for an individual is reached, whether some doctors just always start their patients on Gleevec and gradually make their way through the other drugs as needed, or if it’s based upon the patient’s insurance and which drug they cover. I know that my doctor discussed the side effects, the availability, and way in which each drug must be ingested, with me, in addition to the amount of time that it takes for each drug to “work” or just how quickly a certain drug appears to reach certain phases in this disease.
I know that every person responds and reacts differently to each and every drug, and I also know that statistically speaking, it seems as though with each new generation of these TKI’s (tyrosine kinase inhibitor) there is improvement in one way or another. Sprycel seems to have the fewest side effects across the board, and seems to result in a quicker molecular response. I am sure that they are currently working on a “newer, bigger and badder” drug that will someday be available to those of us that will need it.
For me, I considered my options and chose to go with the newest drug, believing that just like cell phone and computers, as soon as you purchase one, the next best thing will be available the very next day. I just figured that by being the third generation, that some of the bugs, mostly being side effects, which affect my quality of life, had been improved upon. I am not a doctor, but I did do my research and feel as though I made the best decision “for me.” I encourage you all to do the same.
Since my insurance does not cover any prescriptions whatsoever, I was very fortunate that my doctor was very well educated in this department and told me not to worry. He claimed that he had never had a patient unable to get their medication. He gave me a slip of paper and arranged for my first week of Sprycel to be covered 100%, while he did the paperwork to have me covered by Destination Access, which would continue to cover my medication; 100%. Of course there are guidelines, which luckily I fit into. The major guidelines are that your insurance does not cover your prescription and that you make less than $75,000 per year. For full requirements visit the Sprycel Destination Access Program and you can view the Sprycel Prior Authorization Process. I am continually surprised by the doctor's and patients that do not know this great program exists.
My Sprycel has been covered by Bristol-Myers Squibb, through Destination Access for the past eight months. I cannot express my gratitude enough to them for giving me the gift of life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart; which is able to continue to pump my Sprycel treated blood!