Thursday, August 4, 2016

Colecalciferol Confusion

Image result for colecalciferol capsules 20000
A visit to Med Onc always ends up with prescriptions for all kinds of stuff, of course, and this week was no different.

However, what was different this time was a little difficulty arising from a small mistake several months ago.  I’d ordered up the full set of half a dozen items quarterly from my local doctor. He mistook my vague requirement for three Colecalciferol capsules a quarter and ordered up only two—which would be the correct dose for an Eclasta infusion which he assumed I would be having.

When I picked up the prescription and found I was one short, I contacted the pharmacy. They were sorry, but no, they could only provide exactly what was on the prescription. Certainly they couldn’t slip me another capsule.

I smoothed over the problem by ordering subsequent quarterly prescriptions somewhat earlier than I needed them so I would get access to this one capsule in time to take it on the proper day of the coming quarter. The system doesn’t seem to notice that I am getting several hundred dollars’ worth of medications somewhat ahead of when they are going to be used—at the end of this month I will have in my possession two Zoladex implants at around $500 each...

This week, to tidy all this up, my consultant prescribed four Colecalciferol, to enable me to catch up. But this morning I find only three capsules are in the container. Lengthy phone discussions with two people at the pharmacy have made it clear that this time they would be breaking the law if they filled the prescription exactly as the consultant wrote it. They can only issue three because the instructions were to take one each month. And they can only issue three months at a time.

So I asked if I could buy one capsule to make up the deficiency. No, they can’t sell prescription drugs—that’s against the law as well—but they could sell me a pack of 60 regular Vitamin D that were not as strong—for around $15. A sledgehammer to crack a nut, I thought.

“Just get your doctor to write another prescription for three”, they said.  Well my friendly GP would want $15 to write that and $5 to fax it to the chemist who would also charge the standard prescription part-charge of $5 when I pick it up. Not much of a deal, I thought.

How much are the darn capsules, I asked. They thought they were being refunded $15 for three. Actually, having extracted 120 pages of personal information from some eight systems linked to my National Health Index number—through some technical Right to Personal Information or something—I find that Colecalciferol capsules are being costed out on my records at a mere $1.01 each.

But I can’t give anyone a dollar to get one just to straighten this mess out. So I will carry on ordering the whole suite of stuff ahead of time just for the sake of having one capsule on the 6th of each month. And some time I’ll ask my Consultant for a separate prescription for just one Colecalciferol to bring everything up to date. That much cost will be on the generous public health budget but I will still have to pay the pharmacy part-charge of $5 when I fill the prescription. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the pharmacy didn’t make it up to two or three capsules because they couldn’t figure out what I would do with just one.

Somewhere in all this I think there must be the makings of a pretty good comedy script. But I wouldn’t write it because however much I am amused by its eccentricities I am grateful for the large amount of public funding that is keeping me going from day to day. 

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