Patient Story: A Win Against Breast Cancer

How a patient assistance program helped one breast cancer patient save $20,000 and stay healthy.

By O'Mally Monahan

Read time: ~3 minutes

Patient assistance programs offer real patients life-changing benefits

Collage of icons representing breast cancer careSituation

In December 2018, Marcia Cortis was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer. Her doctors caught it early, but the road to recovery was still ahead. She wouldn’t need a typical chemotherapy treatment, but she did need Herceptin®, a therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer.

Marcia’s University of Missouri Health Care doctors set her up for treatment every three weeks with Herceptin. Not knowing the cost, Marcia of course followed her doctors’ orders.

Sticker shock

At $48,000 a dose (before insurance), Herceptin is an expensive and important life-saving drug. While Marcia is covered under her Medicare Advantage plan, the resulting cost after each treatment — the amount she was responsible to pay—was $1,200. Marcia saw only one way out.

“I told my doctors to stop the Herceptin. That’s when they mentioned McKesson’s program,” recalls Marcia.

Three horizontal icons representing breast cancer care

Quick action and aid

Marcia was assigned a patient advocate from McKesson RxO’s patient assistance program who would manage her case. The program helps health systems successfully secure financial aid, so patients stay healthy while making sure the pharmacy is still paid. In these situations, everyone benefits — the patient, the hospital and the drug manufacturer.

“My McKesson patient advocate did all of the work to make sure I received the medication for free,” Marcia shared. The account manager worked with the Genentech Patient Foundation to get the right help for Marcia.

Due to the patient advocate’s diligence and quick action, Marcia didn’t even miss a dose. “It was pretty amazing! To receive help like this seems unbelievable. I didn’t really want to stop this particular drug because it addresses the type of aggressive breast cancer I have, but I saw no other way.”

Advocating for each patient

The McKesson patient advocate is responsible for enrolling patients into various assistance programs. They work with the hospital to identify eligible patients, gather their information in a HIPAA-compliant manner, and guide the patients through the enrollment process. They even ensure the drug arrives at the hospital and Marcia continues her treatment.

In total, the patient assistance program is saving Marcia about $20,000 this year, and helping Marcia stay healthy through her treatment.

“It means the difference between worrying every day about how I’m going to live financially and physically. If I had chosen to stop the treatment because of the financial hardship, I don’t know whether my outcome would be as good. I have a brighter outlook and peace of mind.”

Learn more about the McKesson RxO® patient assistance program here.