New Del. Law Caps Cost of Speciality Prescription Drugs - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Del. Law Caps Cost of Speciality Prescription Drugs

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Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed the new bill into law on Tuesday. (Photo: WBOC) Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed the new bill into law on Tuesday. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Dealing with the sometimes extreme costs of having a serious, chronic disease just got a little easier in Delaware. A new bill was signed into law Tuesday and takes effect Jan. 1.

The law limits co-pays for people needing prescription drugs for many serious, chronic health problems. Some of those problems are common, like rheumatoid arthritis. Some are rare, like hemophilia.

Two of Greg Newman's five kids were born with hemophilia. His son, Tommy, died from it in 1997. His son, John, is a college student who deals with the disease every day. Hemophilia is an extremely serious genetic disorder that impairs the body's ability to stop even the smallest bleeding - whether external, a cut, or internal, a bruise. There is medicine to help deal with the disease.

"It clots the blood automatically," Newman, from Felton, said. "But it doesn't last more than 24 to 48 hours. So, if they get a bleed every other day, that means that have to keep getting the medicine every other day."

That gets expensive.

"[Before insurance it's] $95,000 per month. That's $1.2 million per year," said Newman. "[With insurance] About $5,000 per year [and with the new law] $3,000 per year."

According to Gov. Jack Markell's office, under the law the co-pay for these specialty drugs will be limited to $150 per month for up to a 30-day supply.

But other people are paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket not just per year, but per month. And it's not just people dealing with hemophilia but many other diseases, like HIV.

"A lot of people who are HIV positive are also low-income and have limited resources," said Joe Scarborough, with the Delaware HIV Consortium. "So, the expense is outrageous. Anything we can do to keep a check on these medications and the costs associated with them is very important."

And Newman says if you think this law only impacts Delawareans currently treating one of these chronic diseases, think again.

"It's going to affect people tomorrow who don't know that it's going to have an effect on them today, because they may not be diagnosed with that disease yet."

It would be easy to see why drug companies and health insurance companies might not like this law. The bill took three years to get together and pass. And by the end, those industries were on board. Representatives from both were at the bill signing.

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