Archive for December 23rd, 2010

It was a simple idea. My son and I were at Sam’s for Christmas desserts, so why not fill his prescriptions there? His usual pharmacy had been out this morning of all three of the prescriptions from his pain management doctor at MD Anderson Cancer Center where his recent surgery was performed. One was to reduce inflammation, one for pain and another for breakthrough pain. J had decided not to fill the latter one. Sam’s had only the lower dose pain pills in stock, and only 37 of those. If he took those, he would have to get another prescription for the remainder. So we decided to go to Wal-Mart and get the proper quantity. Only Wal-Mart closed the pharmacy for lunch just as we arrived. So we went to the Publix up the road. They were out of all the pills. By this time the Wal-Mart would be open, so we circled back, got in the long line. They, too, had none of the prescriptions. This was beginning to look crazy.

Surely CVS, a stand-alone drug store up the road would have them. None. Nada. None of the three were in stock. Possibly another CVS could have it, the pharmacist said. So we drove to another CVS. Do I have to tell you they had none? If you have been counting, we covered six drug stores and one twice. The most encouragement we had was, “Check back in a few days.” J has only a few pills left. He only yesterday began feeling more industrious and able to concentrate on things other than pain. Christmas is two days and his sons are coming in four.

He was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch while I watched the ABC news. It was then I realized we had a lot of company across the country today. “Critical U.S. Drug Shortage” was the title of the report. Cancer drugs, blood pressure, surgery drugs, even drugs used in lethal injections are in short supply. Why? Some are no longer being made because they were not profitable, others had plant issues. Government can’t force a company to make a drug. If they decide to stop, they stop. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran this article December 12, this month. http://www.philly.com/inquirer/business/20101212_Critical_U_S__drug_shortage_worsening.html

As I researched this, I can see that the problem has occurred earlier in the U.K., Canada and other countries. Did no one see this coming? Is this Big Pharma’s push back from the push to insure more generic drugs?   So many more thoughts are running through my head here, but I am worn out from a day spent trying to fill a simple prescription.

J goes for a blood draw a MD Anderson tomorrow. Will the hospital pharmacy have the medications? Hospitals reportedly don’t always  have the proper drugs for surgery or chemo, so I won’t get my hopes too high. I just have one question: how could we reach this point?


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