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U.S. News

New Mexico: AIDS Patient Demands Drugs

April 6, 2006

On Monday, Albuquerque AIDS patient Catherine E. DeBonet filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to order her Medicare drug plan to let her fill a prescription for medicine she says will help save her life. The suit's defendants are Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Mark B. McClellan, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, and UnitedHealth Group, which operates DeBonet's drug plan.

According to the lawsuit, UnitedHealth refused to pay for three daily doses of the anti-nausea drug Zofran, which DeBonet's physicians say she must have. The company denied coverage for the drug because the Food and Drug Administration approved it for use only 12 times monthly. DeBonet's doctors determined two years ago that only three tablets of the drug each day could control her nausea and allow her to eat solid foods.

New Mexico's Medicaid program provided the medication until Jan. 1, when the Medicare drug benefit law required Medicaid patients to switch to Medicare coverage.

The suit contends that without Zofran, DeBonet "will have to choose between a permanent feeding tube, which will cause her constant pain and leave her at a high risk of infection, or death."

"The Medicare agency's administrators seem more concerned with touting the new Medicare drug coverage than assuring that beneficiaries like Essie DeBonet actually get medically needed coverage under it," said DeBonet's attorney, Michael Parks of the Senior Citizens Law Office.

Back to other news for April 6, 2006

Adapted from:
Albuquerque Journal
04.04.2006; Winthrop Quigley

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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