Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Saga becomes an Epic

Welcome to another edition of American Health Care in action.

Yes, I'm still sick. The labs she did last week came back negative. I've finished the Advair inhaler, so yesterday I called the doc to see if she wants me to continue. I also need my regular synthroid prescription refilled.

The woman who takes my call in the office is brusque, to say the least. She takes my request quickly and practically hangs up on me, before I can ask a question or two I had.

So this morning, I wake up with a sore throat (new symptom, yay!), coughing up the grossest gray-green plugs, slightly less short of breath however (meaning I was SOB but didn't need to take my albuterol after putting my pants on, wheee!)and I don't know if I need to pick up the letter I requested at the doctor's office or will they mail it, not knowing if they called in the script for the Advair or not... Finally, around noon, a much more pleasant person called from the office to clear up those questions. Yes, they called in the prescription for Advair. Yes, I need to go pick up the letter. (Does it seem reasonable that someone who is sick enough to be out on medical leave needs to wash, dress and get their butt to the doctor's office somehow in order to save the office a $0.44 cent stamp? Just wondering.)

So my incredibly patient, wonderful husband, after working all day, comes home, picks me up, takes me to the office. I pick up the letter, then we head for the pharmacy.


Advair has a TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR copay.

Are you kidding me?

I don't need to breathe that much.

I decide that since it hasn't improved my breathing an enormous amount, I'll wait until I see the pulmonologist. I have the albuterol for acute attacks. And it's possible my sore throat and a few other symptoms are from the Advair. So we go home.

At home, I google Advair. The first online pharmacy I check (Canadian, of course) has a generic form of advair. Guess how much it costs. C'mon, guess!

Thirty bucks. Thirty. $30.00.

According to eMedTV:

Currently, GlaxoSmithKline holds exclusive rights to make and sell Advair in the United States. There are so many different Advair patents listed with the FDA, it's hard to predict when a generic Advair will become available. To make matters more confusing, it is likely that legal battles could affect when a generic version becomes available.

When Will a Generic Version Be Available?

Because there are many different patents for Advair listed with the FDA, it is difficult (probably impossible) to accurately predict when a generic version may become available. As is common with popular brand-name medications (emphasis mine), there will likely be one or more legal battles concerning the generic availability of Advair. It is simply too early to even guess when a generic may be available.

Too early to even guess. Lovely. Yet there are generics available in other countries.

Remember that more expensive version of albuterol I complained about earlier? I discovered that prior (cheaper) versions of albuterol were taken off the market because the propellant was not environmentally friendly. Well, that's ok; I'm a fan of the environment, and if its not good for the environment, the idea of breathing it deeeep into my lungs gives me pause.

But check this. Any changes made to a patented drug makes it a totally NEW drug, with a new patent, a new wait time before the patent expires and generics can be made. So a change to the propellant in Ventolin and other albuterol inhalers now means it's a new drug. Mind you, the effective medication hasn't changed. The drug, albuterol sulfate, the substance that IS the medication, that has not changed. Only the propellant. So now millions of asthma sufferers must pay twice or more the amount for the same drug they may have been taking since childhood.

It doesn't seem right.

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