The Cost of Medication

September 10, 2019

I went to the pharmacy yesterday.  What a horrible experience.  I take all sorts of medications on a four times a day schedule.  I have 12 pills a day designed to treat my Parkinson’s. Then, I have a water pill, a potassium pill to treat the side effect of the water pill, aspirin for arthritis, and two pills to treat the side effects of the aspirin.  Then, there are three more pills designed to assist my aging prostate and Vitamin D, as I am deficient in D.  Now, add in an as needed Tramadol for back pain not controlled with aspirin and taking and arranging to take my pills becomes a part time job. 

Yes, I hate taking all those pills.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to eliminate any; and I’m a good patient, taking what my Doc prescribes.  I also hate going to the pharmacy.  

Despite having an Insurance card, a Good Rx Card and a Kroger’s card, my costs are exorbitant. I literally will spend thousands of dollars every year on medication.  My choices are lousy!  

My Parkinson’s meds are the most expensive.  Without them, I’m non-functional.  I can’t buy them at a discount online as online pharmacies can’t be trusted (see article below).  Luckily, I can afford the expense, but it surely will cut a deep furrow through my retirement funds.

What do people who can’t afford it do?  Go bankrupt? (I just read an article about the University of Virginia Hospital system driving patients into bankruptcy over unpaid medical bills.). Most roll the dice and buy online.  

In the past, I have recommended that my patients take a vacation to Canada or Mexico and meet the pharmacist.  I now recognize the problem with my advice.  Traveling abroad is difficult when you are sick, as well as being yet another expense on an already tight budget.

I guess the best thing to do is eat lunch and dinner at Costco. For one buck and a half, you get a giant kosher dog and drink.  On the front end, you save a lot of money.  Of course, the side effects of obesity and high cholesterol will need to be addressed.  You guessed it:  more meds.

September 30, 2012

I’ve been sitting by the phone all morning expecting it to ring.  I’ve been expecting a lot of calls from apologetic patients now that the news about online pharmacies selling bogus medications has hit the airways.  Nobody has called, no apologies have been offered.

Over the past five years, I have warned my patients about the risk of online pharmacies thousands of time.  I have wasted valuable time trying to educate my patients about the risks of counterfeit medications and false promises.  I have been mostly ignored.

Mr. C – “Doc, I get my Viagra from Canada.  I order it online.  My friend has been doing it for years and has never had a problem,” is the common retort I get!  Patients order all sorts of medicines online.  Women are the worst.  They should know better.

“Mrs. B, is that a real “Marc Jacob” purse (sells for $600)?”  

Mrs. B – “No, I got it in Florida for $30 and you can’t tell the difference in it and an original.  DO you want me to pick one up for your wife?”  

Yes, women buy knock-off purses, jeans, and shoes.  Men buy knock-offs, as well.  A $25 dollar knock off of a $5,000 watch tells time.  While everyone is aware knock-offs in the apparel and electronic world, no one believes that they might actually be receiving knock-off pharmaceuticals.

Finally, the FDA has stepped up to the plate and tackled the impending disaster Internet pharmacies represent.  It’s in the news in a big way.  Not only is the FDA warning about knock-offs being expired medications or not containing any medication in the capsule you are sold, they are warning that some of the pills contain poisons (arsenic and rat poison was mentioned in the Daily Herald’s article) and other contaminates.

The FDA now has a website dedicated to helping you find safe and legal pharmacies.  Yes, you will need a prescription from a licensed doctor.  Yes, your prescription should be purchased from a licensed US pharmacy.  And yes, if the price is too good to be true, it’s not true.

I’m still waiting to hear from those of you who doubted and ignored me.  By the way, Mr. C and his friend may yet have problems from taking their bogus medications.  The effects of contaminates and poisons can take years to manifest themselves.

One more word of warning comes from the Daily Herald article today.  “Besides likely getting fake drugs, that includes the risk that they will infect your computer with viruses, will sell your personal and financial information to other rogue websites and Internet scammers, or charge you for products you never ordered or received.”  Infect with virus are three words a doc never wants to hear and that patients should strive to avoid.

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