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‘Every month is a scramble’: B.C family pleads for coverage of son’s $8K drug bill

WATCH: Family begs for life-saving drug coverage Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave.

A Saanich family is speaking out over the crippling cost of a life-saving drug.

Every four weeks, 21 year-old Tristin Ozard receives treatment for Crohn’s disease, using the specialized biologic drug, Remicade.

“He’s totally in remission on this drug,” said Tristin’s mother Melissa Ozard.

READ MORE: Student’s battle against rare disease renews calls for better drug coverage in B.C.

Tristin was diagnosed eight years ago with the painful disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. For years, he’s relied on a double-dose of Remicade to help him lead a normal life.

Now, all of that is hanging in the balance.

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Tristin has recently aged-out of pediatric care and has had to apply to PharmaCare to cover the prescription. Because his dose is so high, he’s been denied coverage, and so has the family’s appeal.

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Now, they’re left with a bill totalling $8,000 a month.

READ MORE: B.C. government approves coverage of expensive drug Soliris on case-by-case basis

“It’s really hard,” said Melissa. “Every month is a scramble, and stress.”

The family has set up a crowdfunding campaign, raising enough to cover a little more than a dose. They’ve also taken out a third mortgage on their home.

“We’ll do whatever we need to do for him, because we want him to stay healthy,” said Melissa.

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According to the Ministry of Health, Tristin has options. He could switch to Inflectra, a bio-similar drug that’s roughly half the cost and fully covered under PharmaCare.

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“There are risks,” said Tristin. “Specifically, with the body rejecting it, or with adverse effects.”

Another possibility is having the pharmaceutical company that makes Remicade cover the cost through the Compassionate Care Program, but that’s in exchange for Tristin’s medical records.

Since he has several disabilities and mental health issues, that’s not something he’s willing to consider.

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READ MORE: ‘He’s just in constant pain’: Sooke mom’s desperate plea for son’s drug coverage

“It’s not just medical data that they need for the treatment, it’s everything, really. If I tell my doctor anything, they’ll know,” he said.

Now, they’re hoping for an exception. But with every infusion, the bill climbs and Tristin says it’s putting his chance at a healthy life on the line.

“I was really excited I had that future, he said. “I hope I still have it.”

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