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.