Everyone has those moments as a consumer where we say, “Screw you guys, I’m not coming back.” For M., that moment came for her at Kmart when she came back to pick up a refill and learned that in order to take part in Kmart’s $10 for a 90-day supply generic drug program, she would need to enroll in the discounter’s new Kmart Pharmacy Prescription Savings Club for only $10 per household per year. M. chose instead to transfer her prescriptions to one of the many pharmacies offering the same price for her generic drugs, without having to sign up for any memberships. [More]
Many people expressed surprise that drug retailer CVS is a participant in our Worst Company in America tournament. In addition to the everyday issues that a pharmacy/drugstore creates for consumers, though, CVS also owns prescription benefits administrator Caremark. Brandon is a Caremark customer who takes a venerable but still useful medication called Synthroid. He recently ran into a weird situation with his refill, where he was switched to the name-brand medication for no discernible reason. Twice. [More]
If you choose to use auto-refill for your prescriptions at a chain pharmacy, be very, very careful if you move, or if you just happen to get one refill at a different store than usual. G. learned the hard way that Target, at least, will refill your prescription, fail to call you, and if you don’t happen to pick up your refill within two weeks: too bad for you; you’ve lost that refill! [More]
The words “Clomiphene” and “Clomipramine” might look similar, but if you work in a pharmacy, you should know that they stand for very different things. Clomiphene is the generic version of the fertility drug Clomid. Clomipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant. A woman in Pittsburgh says that the pharmacy at a Giant Eagle grocery store gave her the antidepressant when she was prescribed the fertility drug. She had a severe allergic reaction and ended up in the emergency room. [More]
Rebecca experienced the wrath of the birth control pricing gods on a Walgreens visit, discovering that the generic version of her pill, Yaz, was suddenly more expensive than the name-brand version. She braved her insurer’s customer service hell to track down some answers but only got more confusion. [More]
Hey people with Medicare, you’re about to become a little more attractive to scammers. That’s because this week the government will start sending out its one-time tax free rebate checks to those of you who have already hit the donut hole gap in your Medicare coverage. The main thing to know, advises Medicare, is that you don’t need to provide any information to anyone to get the rebate–it’s automatic. [More]
What made Jules sicker than her strep throat was the price Kroger wanted to charge her for a 6-pack of generic Azithromycin. $38.72! “That’s highway robbery!” she told the them. Then Jules stumbled onto something most people don’t know that could save them serious money on prescription medication: you can price-match your pills. [More]
Publix wants people with diabetes to become their longterm customers, so they’re giving away 30-day supplies of generic metformin in 500 mg, 800 mg, and 1000 mg dosages, with unlimited refills. Although Publix would love it if you subsequently get all your prescriptions filled there, it’s not a requirement for the free drug. [More]
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver looked at sales figures and prices for the blood thinner Plavix after direct-to-consumer advertising started in 2001. What they found was that the campaign was largely ineffective at increasing prescribing rates, but that the price of the drug shot up 12% almost immediately to cover the cost of the marketing campaign. [More]
Medtipster is a website that locates nearby sources of discount generic versions of prescription drugs, as well as flu and other immunization shots. You enter the drug (or shot) you’re looking for and your zip code and it spits out a list of nearby pharmacies. Currently they don’t list H1N1 vaccination sources, but they say they’re going to add that info as soon as it becomes available.
If you have to take meds, you know that one of the big issues is watching out for potential drug interactions—the last thing you want is to pass out at the supermarket from uncontrollable flatulence and a sudden onset of glaucoma. Consumer Reports has developed My Medication Tracker, a free desktop app that lets you privately keep a record of your medication history (and related costs), as well as watch out for potential interactions.
Haters of Big Pharma, rejoice! Pfizer has been smacked with a $2.3 billion (yes, with a B) civil penalty which includes a $1.2 billion criminal fine after they did some very, very bad things while promoting painkiller Bextra and other drugs. That’s the largest criminal fine in American history. Let’s hope they’re proud!
The Senate just released 88 pages of a confidential 270+ page marketing plan by Forest Laboratories, created in 2004 and focused on how to get doctors to prescribe the antidepressant Lexapro over similar but cheaper alternatives such as Celexa. The New York Times notes that the line between marketing and education seems to be heavily blurred, which may not surprise you. There are, however, two interesting notes for consumers who may be taking Lexapro.
CVS pharmacies apparently don’t need consent to enroll customers in ReadyFill, a program that signs customers up for the maximum allowable number of prescription refills and then robocalls them when their drugs are ready. According to a veteran pharmacist, the automatic enrollments began after CVS’ corporate office set specific performance targets that would affect bonuses for managers and pharmacists. Inside, the pharmacist tells us what ReadyFill is, how it works, and how to escape those annoying robocalls…
The NYT has the story of a woman who, more than 10 years after she tried and failed to have a baby using in vitro procedures, is still getting marketing information for all sorts of products. First it was Pampers and baby formula — then, as the baby she did not have “grew up,” so did the marketing offers. How did they get her information? They bought it.
We have also shared with all of our pharmacy departments that this is an unacceptable practice and should not be repeated. At Sam’s Club we always have the health and welfare of our customers and members in mind with everything we do and we deeply regret that this incident occurred.
It took three calls from CVS’ automated reminder service for me to realize what was going on: CVS Pharmacy was refilling our prescriptions without our asking for them to be refilled, and then their automated dialer was calling us to notify us that we had a prescription waiting. Nobody in my family requested to have a prescription refilled, yet three times CVS called us to tell us to come and pick up our prescription.