Judy Mackey was already reeling from the news that she would have to take Gleevec every day for the rest of her life to keep gastrointestinal cancer at bay. But the news only got worse. The pharmacist told her she had fallen into the notorious Medicare Part D doughnut hole, effectively leaving her without any prescription insurance. When Mackey learned that Gleevec costs $5,100 per month, she was devastated.
The pharmacist recommended she go to the Practical Assistance Center, a new office on Level 1 of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, to find out whether she was eligible for financial assistance with her prescriptions. It was nearly 5 p.m. on a Friday, so Mackey didn’t think she’d get help that day. But she was surprised to find that social work assistant Maureen Marhofer, L.L.B.S.W., was not only willing to stay late to work through all of her questions, but was able to fax an application for financial assistance to Gleevec’s manufacturer, Novartis.
By Tuesday, Mackey had learned she was eligible for a free supply of Gleevec.