September 26, 2019

It’s another miserable day.  Why?  Today I picked up my med refills from the pharmacy.  OMG (yes, I’m yelling)!  Despite having insurance, I’m spending a fortune on medications.  I use GoodRx.  I use Kroger’s discount plan.  Use my insurance.  I’m still hemorrhaging money every 3 months. I’m retired, getting older and sicker and have to have my meds.

I feel blessed to be able to take the financial hit.  I don’t know how people afford to live.  On New Amsterdam’s (TV show) season opener, they portrayed an out of control diabetic. She was out of control due to the outrageous cost of her insulin.  She could not afford to buy it!

The writers did a great job at portraying the sad reality of the situation.  The hospital administrator/Doc fired the drug company that provided the way too expensive insulin and tried to get it from Canada.  That failed miserably.  He enlisted the press in his cause.  That failed, too.  In the end, the pharmaceutical manufacturer of insulin bought him off by supplying his patient with her insulin for one year.  When the patient asked her doc what about all the other patients who could not afford their insulin, he had no answer.

Reality is depressing.  Patients need their medications and often are left with the choice of paying the pharmacist or paying the landlord.  Retirees living on fixed incomes get hit the hardest.

I wrote the following article 3 years ago.  The only thing that has changed is that now I’m spending too much of my retirement income and understand the plight of my patients firsthand.

February 24, 2016

Dear Pharma,

I’ve known you for years. We’ve been the best of friends.  You’ve brought me miraculous medications over the last 32 years and helped legions of patients enjoy longer and healthier lives.  In many ways, you’ve been a knight in shining armor.

It hurts me to say this, but you’ve been bad lately: really bad!  You’ve priced your medications so high that the average patient can no longer have them.  Your antidepressants eat up so much of a patient’s budget that it is depressing!

I know that there are many factors contributing to the outrageous cost of your most miraculous medication. I’ve previously written about the cost of liability insurance.  I know that the cost of bringing a new medication to market is massive.  I also know that your need to increase your corporate profits has led you down the wrong path!

As your friend and longtime admirer, I’m telling you it’s time to change your ways. It’s time to scrap the sample and discount card programs and reduce the upfront cost of your medications.  Everyone is coming after you.  You are Hillary’s villain.  She openly avowed that she was coming for you in her last debate.

The PBM (Pharmacy Benefits Manager) is your avowed enemy and they are all powerful.  They simply are denying access to your medications. You are the patients’ avowed enemy.  They see you, not as a knight in shining armor, but as a greedy pusher who has what they need but demands their life’s blood to purchase it.

Just how much do you spend on those Viagra commercials? Discount cards? How does a medicine that sells for nine dollars in Mexico, sell for fifty dollars here?  Why is a medicine that costs eight Euros sell for eighty dollars here?  As your friend, I’m telling you it’s time to think out of the box and sell more units for less, here, in the US.

As your friend, I’m warning you. My patients are fed up.  I’m fed up!  Time to buff up your armor and get on your stallion and rescue us!

(Unfortunately, Hillary, Obama and Trump have all failed us and there is NO relief in sight.)

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