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Bill Of The Month: Ocrevus For Multiple Sclerosis Comes At A High Price

Shereese Hickson’s doctor wanted her to try a drug called Ocrevus for her multiple sclerosis. Trained as a medical billing coder, Hickson was shocked by the six-figure bill and the share she owed.

Shereese Hickson’s multiple sclerosis was flaring again. Spasms in her legs and other symptoms were getting worse.

She could still walk and take care of her son six years after doctors diagnosed the disease, which attacks the central nervous system. Earlier symptoms such as slurred speech and vision problems had resolved with treatment, but others lingered: She was tired and sometimes fell.

This summer, a doctor switched her to Ocrevus, a drug approved in 2017 that delayed progression of the disease in clinical trials better than an older medicine did.

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If you have a billing experience that you’d like to share with NPR and Kaiser Health News, you can submit it here.

Genentech, a South San Francisco, Calif.-based subsidiary of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, makes Ocrevus. The drug is one of several for multiple sclerosis that are delivered intravenously in a hospital or clinic. Such medicines have become increasingly expensive, priced in many cases at well over $80,000 a year. Hospitals delivering the drugs often make money by charging a premium on top of their cost or adding hefty fees for the infusion clinic.

Hickson received her first two Ocrevus infusions as an outpatient two weeks apart in July and August. And then the bill came.

Read on: Bill Of The Month: Ocrevus For Multiple Sclerosis Comes At A High Price

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