The Good and the Bad - Big Pharma

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash

Big Pharma actually came through!!
I have been on a plethora of medications for anxiety and depression since my early twenties. The medication that has helped more than any other is Pristiq. It’s fairly new – it’s only been around for a few years. And with a fancy new drug, comes a fancy price tag.
When I worked for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, I paid $40 a month for Pristiq because my health insurance covered a pretty good chunk of the cost. Now, however, I pay $230 a month – and that’s for the generic. Being a separated mother of two, I just can’t afford it.  I have an HSA (health savings account) which helps, but with my other medications and paying for doctor visits, those aids barely put a dent my medical expenses.
For a while now, I’ve been afraid I’ll have to give up my Pristiq and go on a different, less effective, but cheaper medication. Nothing is more anxiety-inducing than the possibility of no longer having anxiety medication that works well. Other drugs have worked okay. Wellbutrin is probably second on my list for anxiety/depression meds that actually work. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I had to go back to that one. But Pristiq makes me feel closer to normal than anything else. I still have anxiety, but it’s not quite as crippling and it’s a bit easier to recover from the panic attacks.
You can get manufacturer coupons for a lot of medications by going to the manufacturer’s website. Unfortunately the manufacturer coupon only covers the name brand variety. The name brand is so expensive that I would still pay $300 out of pocket, and my insurance won’t cover it to help offset that cost.
I discovered that Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Pristiq, has a patient assistance program to help folks who can’t afford their products. I printed out the application from their website, filled it out, and sent it to my doctor’s office to have them sign off on it. About four weeks later I got confirmation that my application was approved, and my Pristiq will be 100% covered through December! I swear I think I heard angels singing.
Now, I say Big Pharma actually came through. And yeah, they did – this is a huge deal for me, I’m ecstatic. But, they’re also the ones who jacked up the price to begin with. I understand why a new drug is more expensive than an established drug. It takes a lot of money to produce, test, and manufacture a new drug, and some of that cost is passed on to the consumer. I get that. But, I feel like the cost shouldn’t be quite so high that people can’t afford it. $400 for a 30-day supply of medication is a bit ridiculous, and I know there are life-saving drugs that are ten-times that amount. 
While I can rest easy for now, in December I’ll have to start fighting for my medication again. I’ll have to start from the beginning and hope for the same results. I can only hope that the government gets their shit together and puts something in place so that the pharmaceutical companies can’t continue doing this to us.


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