Georgia teenager needs prescription drug that costs $37-thousand a year

A family in Georgia is trying to get help in getting the medication their daughter needs. But it costs $37,000 a year.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- Everyday Hailey Finley takes a number of prescription drugs to survive. She is sixteen and has severe Eczema.

"I don't know what it is like to be normal," she said. "If I itch I break out and that causes me to be bedridden."
 
There are times it has led to her being in a hospital for days. Finley was diagnosed as a toddler and for the past 11 years has had to use Prednisone, a steroid, to control her illness.

Her doctors have determined that the steroid is not affecting her body.

"I am swollen from it," she said. "Recently, I have been in the hospital with a swollen liver from it, I have kidney problems, I have stomach problems."

Amy Johnson, a single mom, has watched her daughter cope with the side effects and hates what it is doing. 

"It has been a long road," Johnson said. "but she is a fighter."
 
And was hoping the new drug Dupixent would help. They have followed its development for a year.

"When I heard that this drug was being available. I said this was it, she will be able to have a childhood," Johnson said.
 
The drug was FDA approved in March, but when her doctor wrote the prescription it was denied.

"The doctor would do a prior authorization and it comes back denied, he would do another one and it comes back, it is just a cycle," Johnson said.
 
Hailey is a member of the Georgia Department of Community Health, that's Georgia's Medicaid. The drug costs about $37,000 a year.

"When she was in the hospital in September the bill was $16k she wouldn't have been in the hospital if she was using Dupixent," Johnson said.

Is it the cost? Is it the fact that it is still a new drug?  Johnson said so far no explanation from Medicaid. Her doctor has been doing most of the communicating.  

"Why can't people that are really sick and that needs something to cure them, why can't they get it?" Hailey said.
 
Johnson said her daughter's doctor is still fighting for approval. They are convinced it will give Hailey's a chance to be healthy.

"This Prednisone is just awful," Johnson said.
 
They are hoping for an approval sooner than later. 

"My biggest fear is that I am going to lose her,"  Johnson said.

On Your Side reached out to DCH.

Spokesperson Fiona Roberts said they cannot discuss members. We told her we understood HIPPA restrictions but wanted the case elevated to a different level for review.

On Your Side also suggested the family turn to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance for help.       
In the meantime, her doctor plans to submit prescriptions with Hailey's case history to justify the need for Dupixent.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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