Where do you work and what is your position?
I am a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Lafayette Cancer Care in Lafayette, IN. Part of my role in the Community Cancer Center is to manage all the oral chemo scripts that go out of the office. This includes obtaining assistance for overwhelming co-pays and for underinsured and uninsured patients, so that no patients go without—or even have a delay in—potentially life-saving therapies.
How often do you refer patients to PAN?
Although we are a fairly small community practice of only two oncologists, we reach out to PAN on a regular basis. The nature of our patient population presents us with multiple Medicare patients. The coverage gap that Medicare Part D patients have creates an exorbitant out-of-pocket cost to patients before Medicare assists with medication costs. The cost of the oral chemotherapy medications average well over $1,000 per cycle, often several thousands of dollars. Without PAN, even our most financially stable seniors would not be able to meet those costs, or they would elect not to drain their limited accounts to obtain life-sustaining meds.
Can you share a time when you referred a patient to PAN?
The story I will share is not one from the oncology practice where I work. I was taking my daily walk one evening with my neighbor. She is a nurse in an outpatient dialysis center, and she began telling me about a patient in need of a treatment she could not afford. This patient was willing to stop dialysis and consequently die as a result. I told my neighbor to get on the Internet and look up the Patient Access Network Foundation. With PAN assistance, her patient was able to get her treatment at little or no cost.
What would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer?
I will find the path to assistance for any patients in need—PAN is often the most easily and successfully navigated. There are times when I counsel a patient who has already learned the cost of their cancer treatment, and they are in tears knowing that the cost is an impossibility. I simply say, “You worry about all of the other things you have to deal with right now, and let me work on this. I will get back to you with the options.” I assure them that there is help available to meet their needs.
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