male nurse doctor looking at scans x-ray

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating physically, emotionally and financially. Many railroad workers do not realize how much impact a cancer diagnosis can have on their finances, and many do not realize that there are options available to assist people in affording treatment.  Our prior blog in this series addressed the option for railroad early retirees to apply for total disability to obtain early Medicare coverage after a life-changing cancer diagnosis.  Here, we explore various pharmaceutical company grant programs for targeted therapies.

What is a targeted cancer therapy?

Targeted therapies are cancer treatments that focus their efforts on a particular aspect of cancer cell growth.  Targeted therapies may: stop cells from sending signals to regenerate, block the receptor cells from getting the signal to divide, starve the cancer cells, or help identify the cancer cells for the immune system to attack. Some targeted therapies will simply stop the cancer from growing, others may shrink existing tumors. New targeted therapies are being discovered and invented regularly, thanks to hard working scientists and doctors. While these new and cutting-edge therapies are exciting, they can be very expensive.

Pharmaceutical Company Assistance Programs

Many of the large pharmaceutical companies produce the available therapies and have set up assistance plans to help patients afford these life-saving medications. Some examples (all of these are trademarked names and are used here for illustrative purposes) are:

  • Merck – Keytruda is often used to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer (among other cancers). According to Merck, the cost for each dose of Keytruda is between $10,683.52 and $21,367.04 per dose (depending on how often it is taken).  Merck has created a financial assistance program called the “Merck Access Program” that can help some patients with the cost of this medication.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb – Opdivo (or Opdivo + Yervoy) is similarly used to treat metastatic lung cancer (and other cancers). This is also an expensive medication, costing up to $6,580 per infusion. Bristol Myers Squibb has created “BMS Access Support” to help patients gain access to this medication.
  • AstraZeneca – Tagrisso is often prescribed for EGFR positive lung cancer. There is an affordability program for Tagrisso, that depends on what type of insurance the patient has (or doesn’t have).

These are only a few examples, but there are many programs like this.  Unfortunately, many patients to do not realize that assistance may be available, or may assume that they don’t qualify before even trying. Others are so overwhelmed by their diagnosis that they don’t seek out this information that can help them to afford life-saving treatments.

FELA claims for railroad exposure-related cancer diagnoses

In addition to these tips, medical expenses may be recovered from the railroad under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Our office represents many railroad workers in FELA cancer claims for work-related cancers and we would be happy to discuss your situation.  Please feel free to contact us to discuss your situation.