Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Prescriptions

In case of an emergency, Barbara and I each carry a list of the prescription medicines we take. They also come in handy when we visit the doctor and he asks for a list of our meds. The nurse just makes a copy of the list and sticks it in our chart.

I just updated my list, and I am certainly glad that I am in reasonably good health – otherwise the list would be too long to stuff into my wallet. Over the years the list has grown inexorably, and now contains ten items; there are pills for everything from arthritis pain to restless-legs syndrome.

On the subject of restless legs, I recently read an article by some bigwig doctor who was complaining that when these pills came out, they were making a medicine for a disease that doesn’t even exist. I don’t usually wish anyone ill, but I hope that SOB comes down with that particular non-disease.

We have been led to believe that generic medicines are cheaper, because the patent on the active ingredients expires after 20 years. Because the term of the patent starts when development begins, the actual effective patent life runs from 7 to 12 years after the medicine hits the market. After that, companies other than the developer may make them, and competition is supposed to bring the price down.

And it does, at least for me, because the insurance company gives me a huge break on the prices. My generics cost me $12.50 for a three month supply, but in some cases the insurance company still pays through the nose. For example, one of my generics costs the company $201.63, and another costs them $162.54.

So where is the competition? No wonder medical bills are out of this world.

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