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,