Thursday, April 26, 2012

Big Pharma At Work

Yes, we love our drugs. I, personally, am talking about the day-to-day stuff we take to maintain good health. Some I've been taking for years, like the diuretic I take to maintain a healthy blood pressure. It's been generic all that time, cheap, no unwanted side effects - unless you count peeing. I take it religiously, first thing each morning. It sits in the medicine cabinet with a few others, right next to the ibuprofin which is also a necessity of quality of life, right where it hardly needs any thought or reminders for me to take it. It's ingrained habit.

The last few months when I've gone to renew the prescription, Target pharmacy has had some difficulties obtaining it. Occasionally they have to substitute tablet for capsule or vice versa. No biggie.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday I picked up the latest renewal. I was braced just a wee little bit for an increase in price. It's been on the $4 list there for years, so I expected it to go up a single dollar over the $3 co-pay I had to pay while on insurance.

Oh yeah, did I mention the health insurance is no longer in effect? I cashed in a $10,000 piece of an IRA last year. That counts as ordinary income, bumping me up over the level that qualifies me for Minnesota Care this year. I didn't actually earn more. Less, in fact. And at my age and self-employed, I couldn't possibly afford to buy my own policy. I'll be waiting with fingers and toes crossed (as if it weren't hard enough to walk with my knees!) for the year and a half to qualify for Medicare.

Back to Target. She rang it up, and casually announced that the price of it this month was $44.00 and change.

!!!!!!!  WTF?  !!!!!

Oh yeah, two days ago they updated their $4.00 list and this was no longer on it. (Silly me to wait until I actually needed the refill instead of getting it early like previous months and then sorting between two bottles of the same meds until the old one ran out.) This was an eleven times increase! Well, obviously I paid for it, having waited until I had no options left.

Big pharma obviously wasn't "getting enough" for the drug, created an artificial shortage, and then bumped the price sky high. Remember, this drug is old, common, nearly ubiquitous.

Last night I emailed my doctor and asked if there might be a substitute medication for me next month. She's been working with me on other meds, knowing as I did that the insurance was soon to drop. Let's see what the choices are.


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