Monday, April 19, 2004

Ripped From The Headlines.....

The New York Post is reporting that local, independent (read: not CVS) drugstores are falling all over themselves trying to lure HIV+ and AIDS patients to their pharmacies to get at that retroviral prescription. At $15 - $20,000 a year, I'm surprised they took so long. I'm quoting from the article here:

"At Rite Aid, I had to actually pay $5 when I picked up my pills,"said HIV+ Christine Aviles, 36, who lives in Jackson Heights (Queens). "But at my last pharmacy, they gave me a new hair dryer. It was worth $75."

Six months later homegirl parlayed her "Being HIV+ For Fun and Profit " card into a new deal at a different pharmacy whereupon she received a brand new Fax machine and a monthly $20 MetroCard. Jackpot!

Another pharmacy in the Bronx is offering free beepers with their prescriptions. Then patients are paged whenever it's time to take their meds. Evil, or fiendishly clever? You decide.

While I'm on the subject of pharmacies and prescriptions let me tell you what happened last week. After my very happy doctor's visit I concluded the session by getting prescriptions for three things: Fresh, six month prescriptions for a multivitamin as well as another for extra vitamin C and a third prescription for Buspar cause I'm a whack job. I dutifully took all three to my local Duane Reade around the corner from my apartment. Not having a lot of history with prescriptions I always figured it would be best to stick with a single pharmacy for all my needs. At least, I reasoned, all my information would be in one place and not spread out all over Manhattan. On this afternoon I noticed that there were two new male pharmacists working in place of the usual all female staff. Whatever, pill off shelf, pill in bottle, how hard is that? I left all three scrips with the pharmacy aide who is perfectly nice but if she were in height/weight proportion she'd be ten foot three. I returned hours later to pick everything up and was cheerfully handed a single prescription (the Buspar. Good news, you freakin nutball, we got ya covered on crazy!) I questioned what was up with the vitamins and the pharmacy aide went into the cage where these two geniuses were filling bottles. I saw him wave his hand dismissively and say something about not covered. Immediately, I'm thinking a) this fuck is a troglodyte and b) he's also stupid. The pharmacy aide dutifully reports this to me as "he says they're not covered?"

"Really? I've been getting them here for a year."

She goes back to the knuckle dragging subhumanoid and asks again. My girl's in there pitchin for me.

Now I hear more nonsense about not covered and Medicaid and blah, blah. Timidly, she comes back to deliver the bad news.

Not wanting to shoot the messenger I yell back into the ape cage, "Well, can I have the prescriptions back, because tomorrow after I call my doctor and caseworker and they inform you that these are in fact covered they won't have disappeared in that vortex of inefficiency?" I get my vitamin prescriptions back.

After having 24 hours to work up what I deem the appropriate amount of righteous indignation, I return to the pharmacy. Without making a call to my doctor or caseworker. I don't spot Lothar of the Hill people anywhere, but the other guy is there and I know that he was peripherally involved in yesterday's action. He asks if I'm being helped. I puff up to my full 5'10 potential and start in:

"Look, I came in here yesterday to have my prescription filled. These are the prescriptions, this is my ADAP card. I come in once a month to refill this prescription. Every six months I go to my doctor and get a fresh prescription with five refills. I've been doing this in this pharmacy for the last year. I find it more than a little hard to believe that New York State is no longer providing these vitamins to people that need them and I'm pretty sure my doctor or I would have heard something about it if that were the case. I'm pretty confident you were horribly mistaken." With that, I slapped a Sheniqua ain't playin' look on my face and just stared at him.

"I'll look it up on the computer but it might take 15 minutes."

"I can wait."

13 minutes later I was informed by the less offensive of the Ack Ack Brothers that I'm covered and my prescription will be ready shortly.

"It's all set?"

"Yeah, you're covered."

"OK then", I said blithely. "No rush. I'll be back later."

The moral of that story my chidrens is this: If you're being treated for HIV or AIDS or diabetes or just being treated period. Don't take everything everybody says at face value. People say things, that doesn't mean they are right or true. Do your research. Don't just pop a pill just because it's put in your hand and don't be afraid to ask questions. Of everyone. Everywhere. Don't take no for an answer and don't accept you can't or we won't as reasons. Frequently they can and will. You just have to keep asking.

Now, if you are the owner of a local drugstore and you would like to have me consider bringing my prescriptions to your pharmacy, I really could use a new microwave.

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