This Has Nothing To Do With The Presidential Election

And aren’t you glad about that?

This has to do with pharmaceuticals. Specifically, the drugs we buy to give our ailing pets. As some of you know, our eight-year-old Australian shepherd, Holly, was recently diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic means that no underlying cause for her seizures has been discovered despite a thorough physical examination, neurological examination, MRI, and spinal tap. This is all to the good, although it remains in the realm of possibility that she could have a brain tumor or stroke(s) too small to detect. In any case, we have moved forward with medication–rather than, say, surgery–and Holly is now on Zonisamide.

Allow me to relate a little story which is the point of this post.

Holly’s regular veterinarian, the brilliant and illustrious Dr. Jenny Gamble, called the prescription in to our local CVS at my request, which is down the street and very convenient. When I went to pick it up, the pharmacist said, “Are you aware of the cost?” Ding, ding, ding! went my internal warning system, but what choice did I have? My dog was having seizures and needed meds to control them or risk suffering brain damage. I replied, “It doesn’t matter. She needs the drugs.”

Wanna guess what it cost me? Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute …

$180.72.

You read that right. One-Hundred-Eight-Dollars and seventy-two friggin’ cents for 120 pills. Thirty-days worth of medication. $1.51 per pill.

I went home in tears, positive that we could not support that sort of expense for long. So not only had we lost a cat that year, but now our dog, too, would have to be put down because we couldn’t afford the medication.

Because Dr. Gamble had never prescribed this drug before–and did so now in conjunction with Holly’s neurologist, Dr. Laura Scoda–she didn’t know the cost. I sent her an email to let her know so she could keep future clients informed. When she came to the house the following week to put down our other cat–yes, that’s right; it’s been a helluva year, pet-wise–she thoughtfully provided me with a list of possible alternative companies where I could purchase the Zonisamide. “I’ve heard that CVS is one of the pricier pharmacies,” she said.

I’m so naive. Silly me to think that drug prices are regulated across the board.

Armed with Dr. Gamble’s list, I made some phone calls and did some online research. I contacted Canadapharmacy.com, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Simply Pharmacy. All of them were cheaper than CVS. By how much you ask? At the high end, we’re talking around the $60-70 range, so roughly less than half the price of CVS. I wound up choosing Simply Pharmacy. It’s a 40 minute drive to get there, but it’s worth it. (I also recently learned they’ll mail prescriptions, so that takes care of that.)

Guess what I paid.

$39.00

THIRTY-NINE DOLLARS, an easily accomplished .33 per pill. CVS had charged me nearly FIVE TIMES that amount. “Obscene” is the word my husband used.

I’ve no wish to denigrate CVS. I’ve been a patron many times in the past and never had an issue … but that’s because I was ill-informed. I bet a lot of people are. Take the time and do the research, friends. It could save you a bundle of expense. As for me, I won’t be going back to CVS for anything, despite the convenience. It’s just not worth it.

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