Once upon a time...
In a land far away...
Where seizures were in remission and life was not so draining. There lived a mommy with fight in her heart. This mommy...together with her family...made a very special journey. At the request of a very important woman...who also hosts the heart of an advocate. That was how it came to be that the mommy testified on Capitol Hill against the tyrant Questcor...and their criminal abuse of the Orphan Drug Act.
See, a few months prior to the mommy's son being ensnared by the Seizure Monster...Questcor amplified the price of their drug. The front line drug. The drug indicated in the rescuing of her infant son from the Beast. Acthar gel. Over the course of a handful of days...Acthar's price point was increased from approximately $1200 a vial to $25,000 a vial. And it did not halt there. Today it can cost upwards of 30k per 5 ml vial. Most infants require a course of at least 4 vials.
Suddenly the mommy...seizure saturated son in her arms...was thrust fully into the war that rages between hospitals...insurance companies...drug corporations...and families holding broken children. Her insurance company initially denied coverage. The saga was intense for nearly a week as her son's neurologist went to battle beside her...writing scathing letters on behalf of the seizing baby boy.
In the end...they won that battle. And her son received treatment. Which helped for a time. But despite a price tag which could buy a decent family home even here in New England...Acthar is not a cure. Although it is one of the very very slim "chances" our babies of Infantile Spasms have to escape the Monster. If even for a time.
Which the mommy's son did. He was Seizure Free for a much too short spell. But the rage against the price-gouging tyrant did not lessen after the battle was won. It intensified. Posts were written. A few press corp attempted to tip the scales of right versus wrong. Capital Hill testimonies before Joint Economic Committees were passionately delivered. Interviews for books and even prominent televised news programs were given...although sadly most of those fell by the way side. Because, I suppose, she had no relation to Hollywood. But the mommy...whose advocate blood runs deep...continued to work together with other parents to increase awareness. To buck the system. To be the squeaky wheel and be heard.
But then on a different devastating day the seizure free time ran out. And day to day life became so altogether draining that the mommy had no energy left for advocating. It was all used up caring for her son. Who although injected with over a quarter of a million dollars worth of Acthar was not cured. But rather assaulted by 100s of seizures daily yet again. Because although I have shared this narrative in the framework of a fairy tale. It is anything but. And two weeks from this very day my beautiful little boy will be lying in a hospital bed. Wires protruding from his cranium. Connected to the Beast inside his skull. While we anxiously wait for the dawn of the following day. When doctors will preform what is closest to a real cure for seizures that we have at this time in history. Radical brain surgery. The removal of most of my little boy's left hemisphere. And pray to God...the Seizure Monster with it.
Quite possibly for a cost less than that of the Acthar gel with which he was injected. And proved not to be a cure. Though it may cost the same.
How ironic that Questcor...along with the Child Neurology Foundation...would be hosting an Infantile Spasms Awareness Week during the very month that Trevor (whose mommy once testified before the JEC against the tyrant Questcor) will be wheeled into a surgical room. Where the Seizure Monster their drug could not cure will be removed at last.
Also ironic that Don Bailey, CEO Questcor, with whom I have shared dialogue via email a time or two would not make me "aware" of their attempt at increasing awareness. Nor any other advocate parents with whom I am connected. In fact, I know of at least one parent who contacted Questcor in hopes of gaining an agenda for when this proposed awareness would be taking place...only to be directed to the Child Neurology Foundation. Who really had no clear answer.
Speaking of which...while monitoring my sitemeter I noticed someone from CNF spent hours combing my site. My silly hopeful heart. She actually entertained the thought that I'd shortly receive an email. And yet there has been no olive branch offered from that direction either.
Which leaves me wondering why?
Why would you not reach out to the parents whom you are cognizant have a passionate desire to increase awareness?
Perhaps it is not at all about increasing awareness? And I have no doubt my suggestion would not be remotely appreciated.
I certainly agree with Marissa's Dad that increasing awareness would best happen among those not already intimate with the disease. The pediatricians for instance. The educators who think every seizure is a grand mal. And such. Yet it is our understanding that this so-called IS Awareness Week will take place amongst neurologists. Whom I dare-say should have a solid level of awareness already. Which no doubt will be divulged over platters of fruit and cheese.
Which brings me to my own suggestion?
If Questcor (who makes very ambitious claims regarding the efficacy of their Acthar gel) truly stands behind their drug as a cure? If they truly boast a deep seeded desire to provide awareness for the families suffering this very rare and unknown disease.
I think an ingenious way to create a buzz would be to do something truly dramatic. Truly generous. Truly grounded in the belief that their drug is more than effective...but rather a cure...80% of the time.
I submit to you...short of decreasing the cost of their drug to bring it more in-line with other rare disease treatments...
Why not offer a reimbursement program to those who trial their drug and find it not to be a cure after all?
If Acthar fails - Questcor will reimburse
It's not a super sexy slogan. May I remind you that my creative energy levels are running on fumes as I prepare for my son to endure radical brain surgery.
Call me crazy, but I do believe that would generate some awareness.
(and to all my blog-friends you have my full permission to re-post if the desires so strikes you)