Normally, a daily multivitamin isn’t much of a financial burden. But for those living with cystic fibrosis (CF), the monthly high-dose vitamin supply can cost between $50 and $100.
Because CF often causes malnutrition, those with the disease need to consume more food than normal and take a variety of supplements. Add in the cost of numerous appointments, procedures and other medications, and the annual costs for CF patients can be anywhere between $10,000 to nearly $35,000. So it wasn’t a great surprise when dietitians who work with CF patients began noticing some of their patients weren’t taking their much-needed vitamins—not because they didn’t want to, but because they couldn’t afford to.
To help alleviate the cost, the Fairview Foundation has created the Cystic Fibrosis Vitamin Fund, giving CF patients in need one less thing to worry about. “It’s very understandable that someone would purchase their insulin instead of their vitamin A,” says Tara Griffin, a clinical dietitian at University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC). Often, these vitamins aren’t covered by insurance, leading to high out-of-pocket costs. Proper nutrition, including the supplements, contributes to improved lung function, which can significantly lengthen and improve quality of life. Lower nutrition levels affect immune systems, putting CF patients at risk for infections. Mollie O’Neil, clinical dietitian at UMMC, says the nature of the disease affects income as well. “Their disease really prevents them sometimes from having that full-time job, so finances are really tight,” she says. The Cystic Fibrosis Vitamin Fund now supports eight to 12 patients per month, with the ability to accept more.
I would tell donors that every little bit counts,” says fund recipient John Flath, who, thanks to donors, is saving more than $300 on various vitamins, while also benefiting from a simplified process for obtaining vitamins. “We have a lot to manage in a given day, and any effort to help simplify that is very much appreciated. Ordering vitamin refills at the same time as drug refills saves time, and it’s easier to remember to do. Financially, it helps a lot, too,” he says.