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

Independent candidate Martin Holzbauer, BC NDP candidate Nicole Halbauer, and incumbent BC Liberal candidate Ellis Ross are running in the Skeena riding. (Jake Wray/Clare Rayment/Black Press)
Skeena candidates talk natural resources

Mining, oil and gas, and forestry are important industries in the Skeena riding

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Police look for vehicle after dangerous driving incident

The driver was speeding and failed to pull over for police

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read