Drug store chain CVS is changing its policy because of one Las Vegas father’s actions following the death of his son who couldn’t afford an expensive prescription.
Mitchel Marcus will never know for certain if that medication would have stopped Joshua’s fatal seizure, but the fact that he will spend his entire life wondering is a painful sentence that he wants to spare others.
Joshua began suffering from grand mal seizures six years ago. The loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions plagued his life. “Some of the seizures are so bad that the brain gets so scrambled and the heart goes into an arrhythmia that they just can’t come out of it,” said Mitchel.
Mitchel says a cocktail of prescriptive medicines controlled the frequency. On January 15, Joshua went in for a refill at a CVS branch outside of San Diego, but came up short.
“His medication came out to about $700,” said Mitchel.
Mitchel — who lives in Centennial Hills — tried to pay for it with a card over the phone, but was told it was against CVS’ policy.
“I was not sure what to do,” said Mitchel. “Joshua wasn’t sure what to do and he said, ‘Dad don’t worry about it, I will just go home and I will take it easy. I won’t do anything, I will just lay low.”
It was too late. “He had passed away in the night from a seizure,” said Mitchel. “Joshua suffered partially from suffocation, but they also ruled it as sudden unexpected death due to epilepsy.” At 26 years old, Mitchel said goodbye to his son.
“Just started crying. I was devastated,” said Mitchel. “If Joshua had had his medication he more than likely would not have had the seizure and would still be alive today.”
What Joshua and Mitchel didn’t know at the time was that CVS offers a bridge supply — a partial dosage at no cost to the patient until payment arrangements are made.
“I wanted CVS to set up a policy where, number one, their pharmacy techs would say ok you don’t have enough money at this time, let me give you a partial supply,” said Mitchel.
For Mitchel, it isn’t Joshua’s death — but how he lived his life — that has been his inspiration for others.
“Josh has a lot of perseverance and a lot of inner strength,” said Mitchel. “I want to be able to do some good. I want to be able to help in some way. I wanted a legacy for Josh.”
As a result of Mitchel’s persistence with CVS — months of emails and phone calls that reached the vice president — the chain is now finalizing a policy requiring pharmacists at all locations nationwide to offer a bridge supply for patients in an urgent medical need like Joshua’s.