Mr. Parkinson and the Politics of Pharmaceuticals

3181389420_3835151f67_zIn 2014, I signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. I was given a subsidy so my monthly premium was within my budget. During that same year, I started to take the drug Pramipexole, a dopamine agonist which fools the brain into thinking its dopamine. My brain does not make enough of this neurotransmitter resulting in my having Parkinson’s. I take 150 MG a day and at the time I paid about $120 for a 90-day supply through my health insurance.

So here comes 2015 and low and behold, I can get health insurance but not the subsidy because I did not make enough money during 2014, in part due to the economy and Parkinson’s disease. With my premium doubling in price, I had no choice but to drop my insurance as I could not afford it.

My drugs were affordable before I ever had health insurance, so I was not too concerned. My Neurologist wrote out a 90-day prescription for all 3 medications.

I go to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription; at the counter the assistant tells me that the drug Pramipexole which was $120 for a 90-day supply with health insurance is now $800! After the shock of disbelief, I collected myself and went home to do some detective work via my trusted friend Google.

I checked Target and a number of other pharmacy’s and came up with different pricing from $800 to the lowest being $200 for my usual three-month supply. The latter was cheaper but still more than I had been paying.

A friend told me to check Costco. Since I did not have anything to lose I looked them up on-line and called to make sure I understood what I was reading… for a ninety-day supply of Pramipexole, the cost is $45 without insurance. Plus, you don’t have to join to use their pharmacy. So you see why I called to confirm the price and, needless to say, I now pick up my prescriptions at Costco.

Now, the reason I bring this up, besides trying to save money for anyone concerned, especially for pharmaceuticals, is the question, “how can there be such a wide range in pricing?” The only answer given is ‘different manufacturers’. That does not seem plausible. The pessimist in me see’s kickbacks and fast money changing hands. Something smells a rat! I should write to my congressman… but we don’t want to go there.

With an illness, especially one where there is not a cure, I will be forever dealing with doctors, drugs and pharmacies. And for a person who’d rather be hiking or reading, this is work. But an awareness of this seeming unfairness in pharmaceuticals is necessary or you will most surely lose your way.

Please feel free to like, follow or comment, if you or someone you know has any connection with Parkinson’s.                                                                                                                               
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JC

I was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on October 29, 2012. These are my thoughts on Parkinson's and a variety of subjects.

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