Penny G.

"Since Xolair is currently not on the BC formulary, I expect my out-of-pocket costs for asthma drugs will be about $15,000 annually."


My asthma story started in my fifties. After catching a virus, I just kept coughing and wheezing. Over the years, I was prescribed many different puffers and medication, including occasional “prednisone bursts.” These drugs reduced my symptoms, but my asthma gradually got increasingly worse. Eventually, when I would experience a severe exacerbation, I couldn’t walk a block, couldn’t hear, and didn’t have the energy to eat.

Thankfully I was referred to specialists in Vancouver. They diagnosed me as having severe asthma, chronic sinusitis, and eustachian tube dysfunction — all caused by fungus and exacerbated by viral infections. I had sinus surgery and now take puffers, nasal drops, antifungals and monthly injections of Xolair, a monoclonal antibody. I always have the flu shot. When my peak flow drops below 50% (peak flow is a measure of lung function), I take a prednisone burst and a specialized antibiotic. These drugs work! I never need to go to emergency or hospital.

But these drugs are expensive at $20,000 per year. So far, my insurance has covered most of it. However, my insurance has a lifetime limit. When I reach it, I expect to be covered by BC Fair PharmaCare. My family deductible will be approximately $6000 annually. Since Xolair ($9000 annually) is currently not on the BC Fair PharmaCare formulary, I expect my out-of-pocket costs for asthma drugs will be about $15,000 annually.