Saturday, February 4

An Open Letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Sec of HHS

As read on this week's podcast.

Dear Secretary Sibelius:

 Thank you for all you are doing to improve access to healthcare for all Americans. I am writing you regarding the shortage of ADHD medications nationwide.

This past Monday I attempted to fill a prescription for my child for 30 mg. capsules of Focalin, a medication that has helped my ADHD child function in school. I understand that this medication is often abused by college students and others, because it is, to use the common term, “speed.” So I and a great many other parents do what is required by law to help control fake prescriptions and abuse, and each month I drive to my pediatrician’s office and pick up a paper prescription for this medication, as required by State and Federal law, and drive it to the pharmacy by hand.

The pharmacy I normally use, which happens to be a Walgreens, did not have enough of the capsules to fill my prescription this past Monday. They did have ten capsules in stock. They informed me that if they provided me with those ten capsules, my entire prescription for thirty capsules would be voided, and I would need to return to the pediatrician for another prescription.

The math did not add up to me. Nearly all prescriptions are for a month, thirty pills, why would they have only ten? “Because the manufacturer provides them to us in bottles of one hundred.” I was told.

I followed, to use the words of a former vice-presidential candidate, “common sense conservative solutions,” and presumed that if this Walgreens had ten capsules left over from filling three prescriptions, there must be at least two other Walgreens in my hometown ALONE with ten pills on the shelf. Could those bottles be combined so at least one Walgreens pharmacy could fill one prescription for one desperate parent, ESPECIALLY since there is a well-documented nationwide shortage of this medication? No, I was told. The pharmacies would be required to fill out a DEA form to transfer this medication from one pharmacy to another, and that is just not done. (cc: Walgreens corporate HQ).

What if I, as a desperate mother attempting to get a medication for which there is a documented nationwide shortage, agreed to relinquish my paper prescription and drive to three different Walgreens to pick up ten pills at each? The pharmacy could fax the prescription and even a photocopy of my valid drivers’ license to each of the pharmacies so my identity and validity of my prescription would be known ahead of my arrival to pick up the pills? The pharmacy technician suddenly caught on to my creativity. No, but I could go to my doctor, get three prescriptions for ten pills each, dated ten days apart, and fill them every ten days for a month. I would owe a separate co-pay, if any, for each of the ten-day prescriptions. But by the end of the month I would definitely have my thirty pills!

Is this any way to manage prescriptions for a much-needed medication for which there is a documented nationwide shortage? Okay, now I am reaching a delusional state, but wouldn’t it make sense for the taxpaying mothers of ADHD children to rise up and demand a regulation from the Secretary of Health and Human Services that pharmaceutical companies bottle their pills in 30 pill increments?

I was going to suggest a law passed by Congress, but I’m not that delusional.

Also too (Sarah Palin is a GIFT, I tell you!) perhaps you as Secretary could also apply your considerable intelligence in this area to the HUMAN-MADE obstacles that exacerbate a documented shortage of needed medications.

Thank you again for all you do.

Yours in Christ,

1 comment:

  1. I fail to understand in the 21st century, how they do not have a better system for these classes of medication. I recently had total knee replacement surgery (long ass recovery time) & was taking the bug guns pain meds (Oxy) post op. Could not drive a car, or even bend the knee enough to sit in a car, unless sideways across the span of the back seat. Just crutch it on down in a cab to physically come pick up your prescription.
    I can understand the need to perhaps show ID, or have an additional safety system, but for all our modern techno advances..
    this method is nuts. They could just make it so w this kind of med a new rx is needed monthly, with some special secret code they can use to verify if it is valid. The go fetch method is jurassic.

    I did have a different Rx that the med became unavailable, but the assistant mentioned to try Costco pharmacy, that they had it in stock. (they did)

    So.... you might let your fingers do the walking & try a few different pharmacies-- even the effing big box pharmacies....
    like slave, I mean Wal Mart, Shopko, Rite Aid etc... even some grocery stores.

    I realize your point is this should not be happening, and the getting 3 rx's from 3 different store locations, and paying 3 co pays and getting 3 handwritten Rx's with different start dates is the nightmare of this scenario. That & not knowing if they will have any in stock next time. But if you can just muddle through the next 30 days for now, because let's face it, the Gvmnt is just going to say they have no control over big pharma mfg processes- and even if they did, this would not be fixed in 30 days anyway.

    Of course you have to go w whatever ones are approved providers
    for whatever plan you are on, but having had a kid w ADHD, keeping them steady and not having a lapse in coverage is a big deal.

    One last thought- contact the mfr directly & see what they can do for you.


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