Catherine's story. A bitter pill: the burden of chronic illness

Posted Date: May 13, 2013

Within a generation, it will affect one in 68 workers. It usually appears between the ages of twenty-five and fifty. It can start in your wrists, your hips, your feet, your legs, or your hands. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, is the leading cause of disability in Canada. Catherine Hofstetter has fought it for more than twenty years.

Be inspired. Watch the story of this brave woman and her caring medical team in the third video in our ‘Changing Drug Landscape’ series:

Rheumatoid arthritis struck Catherine quickly. Within a few weeks she progressed from having intense pain in her wrists to being unable to walk without difficulty. But she was lucky. Her family physician was astute enough to order extensive tests, and she was diagnosed and treated in the early stages of the disease. That, as doctors have discovered, can make all the difference in someone’s quality of life.

Early detection and revised treatment guidelines are two of the ten key cost drivers behind rising drug prices.

How do we ensure that the drugs we need are affordable?

How do we keep our drug plans sustainable?

For Catherine, expensive biologic drugs now allow her to live a productive working life. And as the president of a small family business, she depends on drugs just to get up every morning and go to work. And, of course, her employees depend on her too.

Today, thanks to technology, advanced x-rays and ultrasound imaging, researchers can see that joints become permanently damaged early in the disease. So doctors are prescribing drugs much earlier to prevent disability. As a result treatment guidelines have changed.

As more and more people develop more and more chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, doctors are writing more and more prescriptions. And since many of these conditions last a lifetime, it’s easy to see how these drug costs can add up.

The drug landscape is changing.

Empire Life offers a robust suite of drug management solutions to help sustain benefit plans.