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A Good Pharmacist is Essential to Good Healthcare and Reducing Prescription Drug Costs

Posted Jan 12 2010 8:01pm

In my opinion pharmacists are underutilized and under appreciated.....
By Bob DeMarco

One thing I learned over the last several years is the importance of a good pharmacist. You can learn from a pharmacist and benefit. Benefit means learn about an alternative medication and save money.,

A few years ago my sister told me an interesting story about how her pharmacist found a way to give her three times the usual diabetes insulin at the same cost. Meaning, my sister was saving significant out of pocket costs.

This was a accomplished by a simple rewriting of a prescription, and a good understanding of the rules and regulations of her healthcare insurance company. Same drug, same doctor, smart pharmacist -- significant savings.

Just this past week one of our readers who suffers from early onset Alzheimer's received the shock of her life. Her doctor informed her that he was increasing her medication from one to two pills a day. When she went to the pharmacist to get the prescription filled it was denied. It seems her healthcare company changed the rules beginning on the first day of 2010.

After phone calls and all other kinds of machinations it appeared that she was going to be covered for one pill, and would have to pay out of pocket for the second. A cost of more than $350 a month.

One thing that I found odd about the entire situtation was that I checked my mother's Medicare Advantage HMO, and her healthcare company covers the drug and there is no co-payment. A bit confusing for sure.

Enter the pharmacist. At the end of the day, not only did our reader get her prescription filled for the equivalent of two pills (twice the dosage she was taking in 2009), her co-pay went down.

I was very happy to hear from her when the situation was resolved. I guess she would like to know what I was thinking. My first thought was crystal clear -- the angels among us.

It is my belief that we, the taxpayers, could save enormous amounts of money if a once a year pharmacist consult was paid for by Medicare.

I know of one example where an elderly gentleman is getting his Flomax prescription filled every month. Meanwhile, he only takes Flomax "when he needs it". He has full bottles of Flomaxd in his drawer (30 pills). When I asked him why he keeps getting the prescription filled he said, "what is the difference, I don't pay for it." Say what?

Not only is he paying for these wasted drugs, every single taxpayer is paying. I doubt he is the only example of this problem. I can tell you the typical senior citizen believes they are not paying, so what the heck. Well if they live long enough they are going right into the donut hole. Then they will learn Medicare is only free if you don't use any expensive brand name prescription drugs.

If every elderly person had a once a year consult with a pharmacist I am convinced we, the taxpayers, could save billions. Here is another not so original thought, most of us would end up with better health thanks to the pharmacist.

On the other hand, some pharmacies and drug companies wouldn't really like to see my idea implemented. Profit Profit Profit.

I wrote previously about how I did a little research on the Internet and saved $624.72 on my mother's prescription drug costs. The bottom line on that one, I searched for an alternative drug for the one she was taking. When we went to the doctor he said we could try it. It worked.

I bet a lot of pharmacists already have this kind of information in their head.

My suggestion -- ask. It can't hurt, and you might end up with hundreds or thousands of dollars in your pocket. If you don't want to ask the pharmacist for some reason, search the Internet and find out if you could be taking a lower cost drug that does the job just as effectively as the one you are taking.

In my opinion pharmacists are underutilized and under appreciated.

File this one under Bunkhouse logic.
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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,050 articles with more than 8,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

The Alzheimer's Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems

Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room
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