It is a travesty when a life-saving medication has a price-tag that is out of reach. What’s worst is that your pharmacy and your insurance do not collaborate towards helping you obtain them by requesting extra paperwork while your health is at risk. This was the case of 19-year-old Yarushka Rivera a Massachusetts woman who died of a seizure because she was unable to get prior authorization to renew a prescription for her medication. Now her family sues Walgreens alleging its negligence caused their daughter’s death.
Rivera’s family went to Walgreens to fill her prescriptions of Topamax a medication that helped her manage her life-threatening seizures. Her family didn’t have any issues getting her medication from the pharmacy in the past, but a month after Rivera turned 19, the pharmacy informed them that her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of the medication without receiving a doctor’s pre-authorization for insurance coverage.
At this point, the pharmacy gave the family two options: to pay $399.99 out of pocket to get the medication or wait for the pharmacist to contact the doctor for a pre-authorization form. Since they couldn’t afford to pay for the medication, they decide to wait.
They went to the pharmacy five separate times to follow up on their request, and each time the pharmacy would say they would notify the doctor. Throughout the time that the family waited for the authorization, Rivera suffered three seizures, the third which was fatal and led to her death.
She should not be dead.
This is a travesty on two levels. First, the cost of the generic version of this prescription through MailMyPrescriptions.com is between $2.40 and $28.80 depending on the version of the drug, evidenced as follows:
|Drug Name||Our Price**|
|Topiramate Tablet 50 Mg (Generic Topamax)||$2.40|
|Topiramate Tablet 100 Mg (Generic Topamax)||$3.60|
|Topiramate Tablet 25 Mg (Generic Topamax)||$1.50|
|Topiramate Sprinkle Cap 15 Mg (Generic Topamax)||$17.10|
|Topiramate Sprinkle Cap 25 Mg (Generic Topamax)||$28.80|
*Generic drug prices as of 6/11/18 for a 30-day supply.
Our supply side business model proves that this drug didn’t cost anywhere near the list price she and her insurance were being forced to pay and clearly couldn’t afford. Surely Walgreens gets better wholesale prices than us, considering that they own 20% of AmerisourceBergen one of the three largest wholesalers in the world – why couldn’t this patient get a similar price to ours?
It does not seem to be clear if she was ordering the brand or generic version of this prescription, and if it was the brand I presume for good reason – because if not, there is no excuse for a drug that wholesales for less than $1 a capsule, and less than $0.12 a tablet, to be marked up so egregiously. Even if she was prescribed the brand, why didn’t the pharmacy offer her a generic supply for 30-days until they worked out the paperwork issue? Surely the side effects would have been less severe than DEATH.
The second part of this travesty is that like Rivera, thousands of Americans come across these preauthorization forms to get the medicines they need to maintain their health.
At MailMyPrescriptions.com we believe that a pharmacist’s duties go beyond the dispensing of medication as they play a vital role in the well-being of their patients. Pharmacists take an Oath, similar to the Hippocratic oath. Pharmacies – corporations – should take an oath too.
We understand that the pharmacy process can be confusing at times that’s why we coordinate care directly with the doctor. No pharmacy should put this on the patient… period. There is NO excuse.
This problem is like a slow-moving freight train and Americans are a deer in the headlights. When people have to choose to handle paperwork they don’t understand, pay for things they can’t afford at absurd egregiously marked up prices, and/or DIE… we have failed as a society. IT IS COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE. At what point are we any different than animals that eat their offspring with business practices that kill our children.
Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, pharmacies, especially fortune 100 corporations who can afford to manage thousands of retail stores and employees have an obligation to pick up the phone. Would the child of a Walgreen’s executive have had the same experience? I think not.
NO AMERICAN SHOULD HAVE TO MAKE THE CHOICE OF “FOOD, BILLS OR SEIZURES AND/OR DEATH”. This is ABSURD and IMMORAL.