She discovered a lump in her right breast in June 2019. She suspected that something was happening and “out of fear, ignorance or a bad feeling”, as she admits, she decided not to tell her family about it. Alicia Berth (59) came to believe that not thinking about it would be enough for the lump that she felt to the touch to disappear. It was not so. That lump continued to grow in her chest, and by December, when she finally discussed it with her children, the tumor had metastasized to her liver.
As soon as they knew what Alicia was suffering in silence, they took her to the hospital and after several studies a doctor confirmed the suspicions: the tumor was malignant, suffered from breast cancer and had a vital organ taken. With the clear diagnosis, he had to urgently start treatment and in January of this year began chemotherapy, which continued despite the quarantine.
However, he says that since May the medical coverage of the The Federal Include Health Program -which depends on the Ministry of Health of the Nation- does not send one of the three drugs necessary for this treatment, essential for you to aspire to improve your quality of life. A few months earlier, a study revealed that the combination of these three drugs was effective because it decreased the size of the tumors, so her family demands through the courts that they continue to deliver it to her. 6 days after the next chemotherapy, there are no favorable responses and she does not know if the blister will arrive in time.
“I have not received all the medication I need for three months. In July, thanks to a person from Rosario who donated a vial of Pertuzumab -the one that social work does not send-, I was able to receive chemotherapy. But I still do not have the one that I should use on August 14 for my new session, ”Berth told Infobae, overwhelmed by the uncertainty that she lives and knowing that she is not the only cancer patient who suffers from this situation.
Alicia’s full course of chemotherapy is with Docetaxel, Trastuzumab, and Pertuzumab. The last one is the one that Include Health does not send you.
Sorrowful, Alicia remembers how she realized that something in her body was not right. “I saw a lump on my right breast, exactly on the nipple, and I thought it might be a tumor, but I let myself be out of fear or ignorance and thinking that it would be something bad I did not tell anyone … Unfortunately, it grew very fast and when I was able to tell my children, who live far away and I didn’t want to worry them, they took me to the hospital and I found out that it had already spread a lot and turned into a metastasis that now affects my liver ”.
In January, the treatment began, which consisted of four “strong” sessions, the woman says, with a cocktail of drugs that managed to shrink the tumors. He was deluded. After the good news, he had to continue chemotherapy every 21 days with three combined and specific medications for the disease. “According to the doctor, I have to do this chemo for a year and then they will do new studies to see how the tumors are and how to continue,” added the woman, who is also hypertensive and suffers from Ménière’s disease, which causes progressive loss audition.
The drug combination was not random. “It is specified in the vademecum for the type of tumors you have and it is yes or yes the one you should receive”, Betiana, Alicia’s daughter, assured Infobae. So far, the woman has had seven chemotherapy sessions, they did not cut her treatment due to the pandemic.
Since mid-July, Alicia has expected that due to the legal recourse presented to the Bahía Blanca Justice, the doses she needs to re-hope to recover her quality of life will arrive before August 14. “Without knowing what else to do, we asked for an appeal from Amparo, but until now we have not obtained answers from the medical coverage. They say that the drug is not sent because it is missing, but there is to buy it in a particular way. So it is not that they are missing, they are selling it in some pharmacies “, Betiana learned, that she is a pharmacist, and found out that Each vial of the drug that Alicia does not receive costs, in particular, $ 320,000.
The case, which demands to Include Health compliance with the administration of the drugs and is under number 1004/2020 – file 3232, entered the Criminal Court No. 3 of Bahía Blanca by lot. The resolution by the intervening court is awaited on the notice presented after the breach of the precautionary measure was raised (favorable to Alicia’s request, dated July 14) and subtract the sentence.
Why doesn’t Alicia get the medication she so badly needs? The 59-year-old woman, a former worker at the shoe factory in her town, has a non-contributory pension and is not retired so It does not correspond to PAMI, but to include health coverage.
According to the program page, “Include Health is aimed at holders of National Non-Contributory Pensions (PNC), who do not have assistance from health services such as social works, and who voluntarily become members of the program”.
They are recognized in the provincial Cancer Control Plan. The Drug Bank must provide the drugs for free to all the people who “have coverage all the people who reside in the Province of Buenos Aires and DO NOT HAVE health coverage (social work, mutual or prepaid). The beneficiaries of the PROFE INCLUIR SALUD program residing in the provincial territory are covered by the Bank ”.
In addition, it ensures that “The Bank covers the drugs listed in the official vademecum of Oncological Drugs” which details that the three drugs Alice needs must be delivered.
From the Ministry of Health they assured Infobae than “When the management took over, in December 2019, it found that the annual purchase of oncological drugs had not been made to supply the stock and thus provide a response to patients.”
From the agency, they added: “Added to this with the impossibility of being able to buy, because there was a debt dating from mid-2018. Today, purchasing processes have already begun, among which is the drug Pertuzumab to have in stock but also to respond to a series of judicial protections, which oblige the State to deliver the drug, but also to the suppliers to sell it. Something that does not happen so easily due to the debt incurred. On the other hand, These purchasing processes are very expensive and in large quantities, so the different control and control processes make the purchase slow, added to the situation of the pandemic ”.
Hoping that her right to health will be repaid, Alicia said that old ailments have returned in these months: “I felt pricks in my breast as before the treatment.” Sorry for this, she regretted that “The doctors at Penna Hospital who treat me say nothing about it. They don’t pay much attention to me and they don’t give an answer ”.
Before that missing, he says, everything seemed to be fine. “A few months ago they did a study to see how the tumors were and we learned that they had decreased. This shows that the combination of these drugs is the correct one for her, but for three months she has not received them ”, Betiana assured and remarked:“ I spoke with a person from ANMAT, which is the regulatory body for medicines, and they say that the drug that my mother does not receive if it is available in the country. So it is achieved ”.
Despite this serious fault, in these three months, Alicia counted on the solidarity of those who had relatives suffering from cancer and who, after their losses or change of treatment, donated the leftover drugs to a group.
“There is a solidarity group of people who make the vials available to those who need them and foundations that help share requests for help. of those who require oncology or hematology drugs, which are the most expensive, ”Betiana revealed. Thanks to that group, my mother was able to have her blister this month, but there are a lot of cases like hers, although the Vademecum of oncological drugs must be fulfilled by the Drug Bank of the Ministry of Health. It is not that they can choose to have them or not. If it is in the formulary they are obliged to have them by law ”.
Alicia’s daughter added: “This is a very stressful situation. I am 36 weeks pregnant, about to give birth, and I could not connect with my situation due to the nerves and stress of going after a social work and the anguish of not knowing if my mom will have her medication to continue the treatment that was working for him. Until I have it, I will not be calm, the lack of response is desperate. “
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