What Part of "Cheap" is So Hard to Understand?
- Prescription drugs are expensive.
- Doctors don't know how much drugs cost.
Seriously, from a sales standpoint, prescription medicine is unique. Think about it: despite the fact that all sales figures are dependent on my actions, I neither use nor pay for the product. Same goes for medical devices. Crazy.
So when some of us go out of our way to discover that certain old but extremely effective medications are not just inexpensive but downright cheap -- and then actually make an effort not only to prescribe them but explain to the patient why such old, cheap drugs are really an excellent choice for their mild hypertension -- exchanges like this become frustrating as all hell:
Patient on phone: "I need a refill of my HCTZ 12.5 mg."
Me: "I gave you a prescription for 90 of them in March. You should still have refills."
Patient: "But my pharmacy said my insurance would only cover 30, so that's what they gave me. And now I'm out of refills."
Ok: let me interject here that *perhaps* it costs a little more to fill 90 teeny tiny capsules with 12.5 mg of a drug that costs about $5.00 for one hundred 25 mg tablets than it would to purchase 45 said tablets and break them in half. I'll even grant you that not everyone wants to be bothered splitting pills. Still. What the hell happened to the other 60 capsules from each prescription?
No way around it: I have to write another Rx as I explain (yet again) to the patient that the medication should be very inexpensive and perhaps she should consider switching pharmacies. Or offer her the opportunity to split her pills. As it turns out, the real problem is that her insurance company now insists that she get them by mail order.
People have become so conditioned to the idea of "insurance" that they don't even realize the don't have to use it. All it is, after all, is a way to help pay for expensive medicines. But when the meds really are dirt cheap, no one even thinks of telling the pharmacist, "Never mind; I'll just pay for it." Then again, I'm pretty sure there are pharmacies ripping people off right and left for their HCTZ, atenolol, lisinopril, and all my other first-line generics.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, all you folks still blaming me for your drug costs.