Plaquenil shortage and price hike: the saga hits home for Despite Lupus!
Thanks to all of you who have written in or commented about the rising cost of our beloved plaquenil. It's so helpful to compare experiences, and to read about the real costs incurred by real patients across the country. While it doesn't make the price hike any easier to swallow, it is comforting to know that it's not just one pharmacy, insurance company, or region that's affected. It's a nationwide problem, and one that I hope is resolved soon!
It was finally time for me to renew my own plaquenil prescription, and while I was dreading the increase, I was at least prepared for the sticker shock.
Because of the price jump, I knew I wanted to call and speak to a pharmacist about the renewal, rather than just using the automated service. I needed exact dollar amounts, and I wanted to know my options. And in fact, that's exactly what the call yielded.
After explaining the supposed price hike to my pharmacist over the phone (of which she was unaware), we waited for her computer to spit out the numbers. But I didn't have to wait long, as her sudden gasp and empathetic "Oh my gosh" gave away the results. (Somehow, her own shock softened the blow!)
She exclaimed that the price had indeed gone up - unfortunately, my 90-day prescription came to over $450. Last time I renewed (3 short months ago), it was just under $20. Ugh!
I told her I wasn't prepared to pay the $450, and asked if she could run the numbers on a 30-day supply. It came to $159 - still way more than normal, but at least less out of my pocket this month.
In addition, I had my Goodrx coupon ready, and gave her the appropriate codes over the phone. She applied the coupon, and the price dropped from $159 to $116 - a definite savings. I told her we had a deal, though we both agreed it was a sad state of affairs!
So while I didn't emerge completely unscathed, I was able to save a little money, at least for the time being. My doctor was aware of the issue when I mentioned it at my last appointment, but at that point, I didn't have any dollar figures to share. Now that I know the personal impact, I'll be sure to let him know. A $430 increase is too big not to mention!
While I'm hopeful the prices will return to normal soon, here are my recommendations until then:
*Call and speak to a pharmacist to renew. You'll know what to expect before you arrive to pick up your prescription, and you can discuss your options (30 day vs. 90 day, coupons, etc.) with a live person.
*Explore those online coupons (especially GoodRx), and don't be shy about using them. I admit the savings may be minimal or not applicable on some drugs, but you deserve to save as much and as often as you can. Definitely worth the energy to check!
Mention the price increase to your doctor. Certainly don't expect any financial tips or breaks, and you may just get a simple "Gee, that's too bad." But I always think it's valuable to inform the prescriber of issues like this. It certainly can't hurt!