Monday, July 07, 2014

There and Back Again

My accidental experiment with the generic version of my medication was a failure. But a relatively cheap failure.

Twice I have ordered 90-day supplies of the meds. Twice I have shelled out more than $400 dollars because I nearly did the s-word on the generics. The name brand didn't work as well at it should have, though. When I found myself thinking a lot about the s-word and had to remind myself not to do or to do certain things because of the s-word, I went, right away, to the brain doctor to talk about it. His decision was to supplement my medication.

This new medication is also a brand name. Unfortunately, the new med is causing some problems. Not with my brain setting, not that I've noticed, at least. In fact, it's helped me feel better. The problem is that even though this medication has been shown to help people who are depressed, the FDA hasn't classified it (or has refused to) for use with major depression. Therefore, my insurance won't cover any part of the cost.

Oh, sure, the first bottle was free because the brain doctor gave me a coupon and I can cut the pills into thirds because he prescribed the big ones, but how much will the next one cost? I'm afraid to find out, even though I have to. I'm betting it'll be at least $500 for the 30 pills that I cut into thirds. That about $1000 every three months. $4000 a year. About 15% of my current net pay. So much for putting anything extra aside for retirement!

I'm sure that some people are saying that I should just stick with the generics. The thing is that I'm taking something that currently works for a problem that is unlikely to go away. This isn't strep throat or pink-eye where you get the medication, take it for however long to make the problem go away. This is a problem that's there all the time and the medication helps to mitigate what's happening. If it takes the full dose to make things better, it takes the full dose every day. Generic medications only have to be within (plus or minus) 20% of the original brand. (Look up bioequivalence.) That means, on the low end you're losing a fifth of the medication. (Sure, it's possible to get above the mark, but isn't it usually cheaper to have more filler than the actual stuff?)

Losing the potency is more or less okay for something like antibiotics because that's usually built into the prescription, even if the doctor doesn't actually think about it. That's why you're supposed to finish your damn antibiotics. You take them until the infection is gone and then take some more to make sure the infection is actually gone.

If you get on the low end of the spectrum with generic pain pills and they're not working for you, you can probably ask for something stronger and your doctor will probably give it to you. (What do you mean there's prescription pain medication abuse?)

With anti-depressants, though, you’re taking them to help regulate your mood. If you need the full dose and you’re not getting it, you change. You sink back into that pit; creep back into the shadow; curl up into a quivering ball.

At the time I accidently went on the generics I was getting my meds at the local pharmacy every thirty days. It cost a bit more, but it felt like I had some control. By the end of those thirty days, I wasn't the person I had been at the beginning. Even my family saw how much I had changed, how hopeless I had become.

I did get back to the name brand stuff and I did start to feel better, but because I had been on a dose that didn't help me much, I had started to build a tolerance to the active parts. I may have felt better, but I didn't feel good and I knew I was never going to reach where I had been before the generics.

Even with the supplimental meds, I still don't feel as well as I did way back when.

Sometimes I'm not sure it's worth trying to get there again.


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