Saturday, May 29, 2010

Still Riding the Hep C Rollercoaster

In May 2006 I learned that Hep C had damaged my liver so badly that I needed a liver transplant. Thus began my rollercoaster ride, which begat this blog. And that ride continues ...

In January I started treatment on pegylated Interferon and Ribasphere and last month, at the 12-week mark, we learned the treatment hadn't cleared the Hep C virus from my system. In other words, it didn't work. It was no surprise to us: After all, the treatment didn't work 2 1/2 years ago (seven months after my transplant) when I was placed on it.

But there was a bright spot in the results - my liver enzymes, Alkaline and GGT all had dropped significantly and this was news to celebrate. In spite of research indicating no benefit from staying on treatment for "maintenance therapy," we decided I would continue on it because of the improved impact on my bloodwork. However ...

My last three sets of blood test results show a steady rise in liver functions. AST and ALT are closing in on 200 and GGT is 519! What the hell?!

This is virgin territory. It never occurred to me that the numbers might increase while I'm on treatment. Candidly, I'm not comfortable in this realm of the unknown.

Next step: Repeat basic labs in just over a week, along with PT-INR and Hep C viral load count. Depending on what those results show, my doc may order a liver biopsy sooner than later. And I'll keep riding the rollercoaster, hanging on for dear life.

Photo by Lars Sundstrom

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saving Money on Meds

Yesterday I received the best possible kind of mail - a card certifying my enrollment in a program that will save me up to $200 off the cost of my immunosuppressant. When you consider that my copayment for this med just increased from $360 to $600 per year, the card is like manna from heaven.

My sincere thanks to the pharmacy service rep who mentioned the Prograf Value Card program and enrolled me in it. I'm grateful for any savings we can gain, given that this is but one of the medications I take daily. I'm not familiar with the eligibility requirements for the program but found the online website to enroll.

Post-transplant medication costs are significant. We have good medical insurance but our out-of-pocket copayments exceed $1,700 per year. That doesn't include my cost for the pegylated interferon and Ribasphere I currently take, which an additional $500 per year (a drop in the bucket compared to the many thousands of dollars these meds cost at "retail").

If you take Prograf and could use assistance paying for it, perhaps this can help you. Good luck!

Photo by Will Thomas