The pharmaceutical market is a racquet! Most of my medications are generic; and thank God they cost me nothing. There are a couple of meds that have no generic counterpart; but they are needed to prevent rejection of my second cornea transplant and help control my blood glucose levels. In this post I will focus on the anti-rejection eye drop, Lotemax. The alternative medication to this one is Predforte with its generic counterpart, Prednisolone. Prednisone prevents corneal rejection via steroid treatment that keeps any type of inflammation to a minimum. The main drawback to this low or no cost drug is the resulting increase in eye pressure in patients with glaucoma due to its steroid component. I am one of those glaucoma patients with the degree of severity requiring the use of all four classifications of drugs used in its treatment. Lotemax performs the same function as Prednisolone minus the steroid induced pressure increase.
The cost of this non-generic medication is astronomical. I was fortunate to receive samples from the doctor along with a bottle or two left behind when Wil’s dad died earlier in the year. When I asked for samples during my last appointment, I was informed by Dr. Marks that he did not dispense medication; but only prescribed it. I am on my last tiny sample bottle and feel squished between a rock and a hard place. My prescription is sitting at Walgreens awaiting the result of the tug of war between Dr. Marks stating that I need the higher drug and the insurance company insisting that I use the prednisone drop instead. If the insurance company does pay for the Lotemax, it will cost me at least $260.00; and count $1200.00 toward my Medicare Advantage doughnut hole. Dad had Tricare for Life; and only paid $9.00 per bottle of the same drug. Medicare Prescription Plans do not cover many eye drops. This is one type of medication that is commonly needed and used in advanced age.
I found some prices for the non-insured online. The Canadian Drug Store sells a single 5ml bottle for $28.99 or six 5ml bottles for $91.49. I have my reservations about ordering my medications from another country. Locally, I found it as low as $143.00 at Walmart and as high as $189.00 at Rite-Aid for one 5ml bottle. There seems to be no regularity, guidelines, or limits when it comes to drug pricing.
I am in a Catch 22 situation. If I use the generic prednisone, I risk irreparable damage to my optic nerve from an increase in glaucoma pressure resulting in eventual total blindness. If I cannot shit the gold needed to purchase the Lotemax, I risk losing my cornea. My situation is not uncommon. There are many others out there who suffer similar Catch 22 situations with their own illnesses and medication needs. There are no easy answers; but I will keep searching and hope for the best.
Until next time…