The High Cost of Living. And Hurting.

The other day I dropped by my pharmacy to pick up my migraine medication (Zomig).  My doctor switched me to a nasal spray near the end of 2017 in order to try to stop the rebound headaches my other medication (Maxalt)* caused.  Zomig worked surprisingly well & I felt like not only did the rebound headaches stop, the migraines themselves became less frequent.  So imagine my surprise when the pharmacy tech calmly said, “Oh, you’re not gonna like this, but your total is $975.42.

Me:  Uh, did you say $175.00 or NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS?

Her: $975.42

Me:  NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS?  FOR SIX DOSES? SIX?

Her:  Yeah, you must not have met your deductible.  Have you?

I resisted saying, “Of course I haven’t met my damn deductible because it’s January 19th and I haven’t had my appendix removed or a limb replaced in the last two weeks!”  So I just said, “Not having met my deductible isn’t really the point, here.  That they can charge NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS for six pills to get rid of headaches is just ridiculous.”

Her: So you don’t want it?

Me:  I’m going to have to pass.  I’ll either have to hurt or DIE when I tell my husband I paid that much money for six pills.

I’m still stunned, weeks later, that medication can cost this much.  YES, I WANT IT, ACTUALLY.  It makes life much more bearable, but do you offer financing?  Have a loan department?  I mean can you hold it until I set up a Go Fund Me?  For $975 I can buy some street drugs & take the dealer out for a steak dinner with money to spare!  For $975, it should give me the ability to teleport and blow rainbows out my ass!

So I left. I called a locally-owned pharmacy & the nice pharmacist said she thought it definitely should not cost that much but can’t tell me what they charge (bullshit alert) because they don’t carry it & would have to order it.  (HELLO, no one can afford it so you never need it!)  But she encouraged me to call my pharmacy back because they probably made a mistake and priced a 6-month supply.  Because $975 for 36 pills is SO MUCH MORE REASONABLE, right?

I call the first pharmacy back. This time I get a different guy who has worked there a long time. He was nice but no, it’s correct at $975. They are not wrong. The expense probably comes from the “mechanism of delivery” (since it’s a nasal spray). WTF?  It’s in a little plastic rocket-shaped thing that probably cost the Chinese 3 cents to manufacture & in one shot the meds are up your nose and gone. I mean it’s basically a tiny water gun so just sell me the liquid, I’ll go get a water gun at the dollar store and shoot it up there myself!  If I am paying $975 for the “mechanism of delivery” then that mechanism needs to be Tom Brady putting it on my pillow at night & shooting it up my nasal cavity himself, shirtless & in Uggs.  Or Oprah in my front yard yelling, “You get 6 Zomig doses! And you get 6 Zomig doses!  Everyone gets 6 Zomig doses!”

Just for shits and grins, let’s name other things we could buy for $975:

*A new iPhone X with a case!

*A new lens for my camera!

*230 pumpkin spice lattes!

*28 bottles of Grey Goose vodka!

*4 new tires! With road hazard protection!

*985 medium Sonic Cokes if you go during Happy Hour!

*88 Large Domino’s pizzas!

*A nice TV!

*A Caribbean cruise!

*39 Hardcover Bestsellers!

*A lot of weed, which, at this point, I might be open to if drugs are this expensive!

In all seriousness, though, this is ridiculous.  I don’t want to hear about how the cost of research and production dictates the cost because it’s a headache medicine.  It’s not a cure for cancer. At it’s highest, I only paid $134 for Maxalt, which compared to $975 seems like a great deal. The average American cannot afford a medicine that is $975 for SIX doses. The conclusion of this tale is that I got the generic version in pill form for $44.  It doesn’t work as well & I’m only able to have 6/month when I could have 9/month with Maxalt. (A very, very good chiropractor/physical therapist – yes, he’s both – has also helped tremendously.)  Since I’ve told this story I have heard tales of MUCH higher prices for other medications. We have to do something about this problem. And someone who shits in a golden toilet in his golden penthouse has no clue what it’s like to need medicine you can’t afford.  It’s time for change. I tried to use humor to illustrate my point but it’s truly not funny.  Especially if you can’t afford to buy meds needed to keep your kid or self or spouse alive.  I’m lucky that there were options & my life didn’t depend on it.  Not everyone is.

*In no way do I mean to diss Maxalt.  It’s a wonderful drug for many including my son, and I wish it didn’t cause the rebound pain in me because it was otherwise perfect.

 

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