“I’ve had 32 different kinds of antidepressant medication, and nothing has worked.”
55-year-old Lynne Borton of Albion, Iowa says she’s been trying to find something to help ease her depression symptoms since 2011.
“I am medication resistant, so it’s been difficult for doctors to find tools that help me. I’ve tried a lot of things that aren’t medication. I’ve done equine therapy, massage therapy and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatment,” Borton says.
But earlier this year, her doctor suggested a new medication called SPRAVATO. It’s a nasal spray designed as a treatment-resistant depression medication. Since it’s so new, it’s also very expensive. The initial price-tag came in at more than 2,000 dollars for the first three treatments, and that wouldn’t even cover half of the beginner regimen the drug-maker recommends.
“The cost was out of the range I could do,” Borton says.
Discovering a Support Team
The prescription went through the pharmacy managed by UnityPoint at Home. There, pharmacist Laura Winberg and Medication Assistance Advocate Angela McKnight teamed up to help.
“Across UnityPoint Health, there are resources and advocates in different roles. We hope no patient forgoes treatment when they feel costs would be prohibitive,” McKnight says.
McKnight helped Borton navigate a grant from the drug maker and Winberg came up with the idea of using a Compassion Fund. This resource is available across many UnityPoint Health locations to help patients with barriers around things like medication. The fund aims to provide peace of mind and help reduce stress on patients and families.
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“I had no idea if the Compassion Fund would work. I didn’t even mention it to Lynne, because I wasn’t super familiar with how it works. But I sent my email requesting help, and it worked,” Winberg says.
Both Winberg and McKnight got to call Borton to share the good news of the financial assistance.
“I know I had tears in my voice. I kept saying, ‘I can’t believe it.’ For once, I felt joy, and it was incredible they took the time and effort for me, because I feel like people don’t do that for me. Usually, I feel worthless and hopeless because of the depression, and they went through all the trouble to do this, and it was just incredible. It was a very big deal,” Borton says.
With funding in place, Borton started her treatments in early spring.
“Because of being medication resistant, it’s taking longer to see noticeable results. We’ve talked to my care team, and they’re probably going to change the other drug I’m using that is a tool together with this SPRAVATO. But none of us are getting down about it or deciding to quit. So, I might not be a star patient, but I’m not giving up on it either,” Borton says.
Finding Trust During Difficult Times
She says if she could describe the support McKnight and Winberg offered in one word, she’d call it “amazing.”
“They built trust with me. That’s something that’s very difficult for people to do. They kept me informed through the entire situation, whether it was good or bad news. That, right there, was positive for me. They also offered to talk about what was going on in detail. They didn’t have to do that. I feel like I trusted them enough that I could talk to them about anything,” Borton says.
Both McKnight and Winberg say this type of work is important and fulfilling.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health, so assisting Lynne was no less critical than helping a patient with their chemotherapy,” McKnight says.
“I feel all patients should get the medication they need. Lynne had already tried many alternatives. If it was someone in my family, I would want someone to fight for them, too,” Winberg says.
Borton says she’s going to keep working with the medication through the summer while spending time with her mom, their three pups (pictured above) and enjoying the sunny, warm season.