California native Jennifer Pellegrin shares her story on the importance of getting the treatment you need, when you need it.
By Jenn Pellegrin
Editor’s note: Jennifer Pellegrin is a National Psoriasis Foundation volunteer advocate who is sharing her experience, in her own words, on how detrimental step therapy was to her treatment journey, and why state legislation, like California’s AB 347, will improve access to care for millions.
My name is Jennifer Pellegrin, and I am a registered nurse from Riverside, California. I live with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – a chronic, inflammatory disease that has no cure.
Psoriatic disease is complicated to treat, and I have to work with both a dermatologist and rheumatologist. In 2018, my health care team and I determined a biologic would work best for me. However, I was devastated when my insurance company forced me to try and fail three different medications first.
I’d like to share my step therapy story with you:
First my insurance company made me try and fail topical creams for three months, even though I had already used them for years with no results.
Then the insurance company attempted to force me into trying a medication that would cause life-threatening damage to my liver. After three months of medical documentation to show this risk, they finally allowed me to bypass this step.
The third and final hoop the insurance company made me jump through made my symptoms even worse.
I’m used to having the red, flakey, painful psoriasis patches on my body. But the step therapy treatment forced by my insurance exacerbated my psoriasis so bad that in just one month it covered 90% of my body.
The insurance company said I still had to stay on this treatment for two more months to prove “failure”.
Finally, after a full year, the insurance company approved the biologic originally prescribed by my doctors. During the whole step therapy process, twelve calendar months were wasted fighting the insurance company and trying and failing medications that my doctors knew would not work.
Yet, in just three weeks on the originally prescribed biologic, the patches were gone, my joint pain was manageable, and, for the first time, I felt the relief I had been hoping for.
I’m asking California lawmakers to support AB 347. Patients like me can’t wait. Help Californians get the right medicine at the right time by passing AB 347.