East Coast Rx Express — David Mathis — Ocoee, Florida

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David Mathis had a successful business career in the office machine industry in Dallas-Ft. Worth. But toward the end of his career, the squeeze put on his company by megaliths like Office Depot forced it to close all its branches, fire everyone and offer them a franchise. David retired, moved to Florida 11 years ago to be near his son, and eventually went on Medicare and a supplemental plan.

David, however, pays for his own prescription drugs. It costs him $300 a month. At 76, that is quite a bite out of his small income. But he needs the medications. He had open heart surgery in 2000, and takes medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and prostate problems. David enrolled in the new Medicare drug discount card program but saves less than 10 percent on his medications. He hopes to save 40 percent of the cost on those when he takes the Rx express to Toronto.

The cost of drugs is taking a toll on David, and it is not the first time he has gone though this. He was caregiver for his mother during her final six years. "My mother spent exorbitant amounts on drugs and medications," he says.

Twice widowed, David has four children, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. An independent man, he lives alone and manages his finances carefully and successfully. Nevertheless, he is upset at the financial ravages of the drug companies.

He is taking the train in part "as a protest of high drug prices. Americans pay far too much for their prescription drugs. Drug companies and HMOs are making big profits. Doctors are pinched," and patients suffer.

David says he knows the problems, "but I don’t know the answers." He does believe there are specific steps the government can take, like instituting bulk purchasing. "If they can do bulk purchasing for the Veterans Administration, they can do it for all Americans," David says.

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