Kissing big pharma’s ass

Had to refill my Lamictal today. Right now I’m taking three 25 mg tablets and three 5 mg tablets to total 90 mg.  I was out of both of them. (That’s down from a high of 400 mg!)

When I got to the pharmacy I discovered I’d reached the much dreaded “donut hole.” Once you reach $2500 in prescription costs, Medicare cuts you off until you’ve reached around $5,000 in costs. I was hoping I would be off drugs this year before I reached the donut hole, but no such luck.

Last year GlaxoSmithKline kindly paid for my Lamictal throughout the donut hole period. And so upon leaving the pharmacy, no drugs in hand, I made a call to the kind pharma giant. Everyone I spoke to was very nice on the phone. I had a sick feeling in my stomach as I made arrangements with the enemy with a large smile in the tone of my voice. Everyone was just oh-so-pleasant.

Apparently I hadn’t paid quite enough out of pocket to be eligible for their program but I was eligible based on income. In order to be eligible I had to spend $225 more out of pocket. So I returned to the pharmacy and bought $225 worth of the two different dosages of the Lamictal that was waiting for me. The total bill would have been over $600 for today.

Strangely enough I was surprised to learn that Lamictal now has a generic version since I last bought it. I inquired with the pharmacist telling her what I was doing and asking her if she thought the generic was safe. No, she said, not for a drug like an anti-convulsant and if I was making 5% tapers that wouldn’t be good either since the generic only has to be within 20% of the active ingredient. Meaning it can be 20% stronger or weaker than the brand drug! I’m not ready to add 20% of a drug I’ve been tapering back into my body, or worse go into nasty withdrawals because the generic is 20% less strong.

Imagine, I’ve been making 5% cuts because that is how sensitive my body is and I know my body is not alone in that sensitivity and the regulators make it okay for the generic to be 20% different from the original. It’s insane and something everyone should be aware of. Generics are not required to be the same strength as the brand name drug. I wrote about this fact once before and it’s documented here. You need to get past the first paragraph of that post to get to the FDA requirements for the drugs. It’s actually on 80% – 125% of the original drug according to the article I link to there.

Anyway, GSK will again pay for my drugs. It’s truly as it should be. They are nasty ass mo fos. The Paxil story and cover up of suicidality in their clinical studies is only one of the horror stories they are responsible for. In my life the horror has been the Lamictal. It was the Lamictal withdrawals that made me so sick I couldn’t get out of bed until my doctor figured out the sodium/potassium connection. They should be paying me to finish my withdrawal for all the pain they’ve caused.

They make poisonous, dangerous crap and cover it up even when they know it.

I’m so glad that they, instead of the government will be paying for what will hopefully be the remainder of my withdrawal from Lamictal.

23 thoughts on “Kissing big pharma’s ass

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  1. Yes, Fid,
    It’s just one of their “patient assistant programs.” They very generously pay for drugs for us poor folk….

    It’s just a shitty PR ploy on their part. It’s also saving my ass.

    It’s really amazing to hear the stories and deeply disturbing as well since insurance companies keep pushing generics, if available, on us.

  2. I had no idea about the 20% rule. Absolutely absurd. I used to take Tegretol and the pharmacy mistakenly substituted Carbamazipine instead. I knew that it could be different, but was too busy to make it back to the pharmacy. I was gradually more agitated over the course of a week to the point of me not being functional, only able to cry, frustratingly oblivious as to the reason I was crying, except for stupid chemistry. I learned my lesson to check my scripts before leaving.

    A couple years ago, I applied for free Seroquel, but was turned down. Amazingly, it is very difficult for my psychiatrist to get free samples, but I once got a 9 month mother lode from my GP. I ordered from Canada once – instead of $180/month, it was $180 for 3 months. I have less than two weeks left of my last free sample, so an order to Canada is due.

    I hate needing this crap. But you already know all about that.

  3. Hi Stephany… I came across the news of the Zyprexa generic while reading the European Medicines Agency (EMA) area of the Europa website (links below).

    I’m not sure what to make of it. Just as Gianna has encountered with the Risperdal generic, the information available is conflicting.

    So far as I can see…..

    Teva Pharma BV and NeoPharma, the manufacturers of two Zyprexa generics, Novo-Olanzapine / Olanzapine Teva, and Olanzapine Neopharma respectively, have each been granted a ‘marketing authorisation’ valid throughout the European Union.

    Maybe that authorisation isn’t of great interest while Lilly still holds the patent on Zyprexa. According to the financial press, the Zyprexa patent doesn’t expire until 2011 at the earliest.

  4. If I was a conspiracy theorist surveilling the scandal of atypical neuroleptics and the diabetes epidemic they have created, I might wonder whether there was something altogether more sinister going on.

    Neuroleptic-induced diabetes is certainly a win-win for BigPharma, since the Industry gets to treat two disorders where previously there was, at most, one…

    Are the gangsters behind BigPharma wilfully injuring the general public? Is BigPharma marketing drugs in full cognisance that they are creating an epidemic of iatrogenic diseases? Is BigPharma deliberately manufacturing disease in order to treat it at great profit?

    You could almost pose the question: does BigPharma suffer from Munchausen by Proxy?

  5. On the subject of generics, I see that the drug cloning giant, NovoPharm, has developed novo-olanzapine, a generic of Eli-Lilly’s highly toxic neuroleptic, Zyprexa.

    As the generic brings the drug within reach of more people, we can expect an explosion in cases of type II diabetes, an all too common “side-effect” of olanzapine.

  6. Tell me about them there generics 🙁 …
    Literally, for 12 yrs I took generic levothyroxine (i.e. Synthroid) over my endocrinologist’s objections [I just thought they were in Big Pharma’s pockets] — then I must have gotten a bad bottle (20% less you say?), bcz I suffered from a horrendous hypothyroid “slump”… Jesus I never want to live through a nightmare like THAT again!
    [I apologize if the link doesn’t work but I never claim to be any sort of computer geek!]

  7. Jazz,
    they retain the right for 3 years but once I’m off the drug and no longer beholden to them I can retract it, which I will.

    You probably qualify for free drugs….through Bridges to Access. Just look up GSK online and you can see if you do.

    No I’m not getting the generic, but my pharmacist did say she could get it.

  8. I just went through this with running out of my free samples of Lamictal. 4 pharmacists here told me there is NO generic even though I told them my pdoc said there was, etc. they said all they could do was rx chewable Lamictal and save like 30 bucks on the rx total.

    Is it generic??

  9. So what kind of privacy? What exactly do they want to do with that information. Privacy of your medical records or your financial records…or your Internet IP address…haha!

  10. How fitting that they should pay for the last of your meds as you finish your withdrawal! I’m chuckling gleefully here!

    On a more serious note, however, that really sucks that you have to sign away your privacy rights to get the help. It’ll be good when you no longer have to deal with these people!

  11. yeah I like the sound of “kissing big pharma’s ass goodbye” much better.

    I’ll get there…I’m not doubting that too much anymore—-and hopefully this is my last donut hole year!!

    I had to sign away all my privacy rights today when I filled out the form for them to send me my meds for free…

    It’s rather disturbing but I don’t have much choice. No money to pay for the drugs otherwise….just too many expenses right now.

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