Good Medical Advice

Since I was diagnosed with COPD about 10 years ago, down in Panama, I’ve taken various medications in the battle to stay functional. One of the first I got gave me horrible leg cramps. I’d be awakened in the middle of the night with cramps. There was one time I was boarding a bus in David (dah VEED) when my calf spasmed sending me stumbling in the aisle. A young teenager instantly gave me his seat. Panamanian kids are actually like that…I stopped taking that.

Besides using the Ventolin rescue inhaler I didn’t take any specific COPD meds until several years later when I dropped anchor at Bradenton Beach, FL, just south of Tampa Bay. When I told the doctor there that I was depending on the Ventolin too much he prescribed Breo Ellipta. It helped a lot. Now the thing is these meds DON’T cure anything. They simply make it a bit easier for a person to carry on a more or less normal existence. I still have to suck on the Ventolin several times a day when I exert myself physically, but that’s a lot less than if I wasn’t taking the Breo every morning.

As my lung capacity diminished from the 43% I was tested at in Panama to the 21% I registered a few months ago here in Central Florida, I’ve tried several different meds. One was Symbicort. I tried that one out when I found it was now available in generic form. NOW, here’s one of the reasons America’s medical system is so expensive and messed up…my insurance WON’T COVER the less expensive generic form of Symbicort. Only the high-priced spread. It wasn’t a big deal because after using it for a month it wasn’t nearly as effective as the Breo which I went back to using.

My new doctor here in DeBary, FL had me try out a new med called Trelogy. It has three medications in each puff you take daily instead of just two meds that come in the Breo. After a couple of months I didn’t notice that the Trelogy was any more effective than the Breo even though it was about 25% more expensive. So I went back to the Breo.

The pulmonologist I was sent to see on the recommendation of my primary care physician had me try a med I can’t even remember the name of anymore. It didn’t do a damned thing. It was as if I’d been given a placebo. So it was back to the Breo. At least that worked, sorta, to make life a bit more comfortable.

Now, here’s the important thing for me. I live entirely on Social Security. Thanks to George (putting the “W” into AWOL) Bush’s clever “donut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug coverage I usually get nailed around October with a HUGE increase in what i have to pay for my meds. Most of my meds really aren’t breath-takingly expensive. A 90-day supply of my BP meds run under $11. A 90-day supply of the med I take to keep my prostrate shrunken is around $5. The generic Albuterol for the rescue inhaler runs $12 and a few pennies. One of those generally lasts me a couple of months. The full price of Breo Ellipta is $410. In Canada it’s $212.

The price of the Trelogy depends, like ALL the meds, on where you buy it. The price without insurance is $696.58 at Wally World and $729.63 at Walgreens.

Last month my primary care physician had me try out an new three-med product named Breztri. It works the best of any I’ve tried. BUT the retail price at Wally World is $715.57. If i I was in Canada the cost would be $299!!!

When the doc told me to try the Breztri he gave me a discount card but here’s ANOTHER way things are totally EFFED up in the US of A…AstraZenaca WON’T give anyone who has Medicare insurance the discount. ONLY people with private insurance qualify for that. Realistically that’s because Medicare won’t let them be ripped off by Big Pharma, but Astra can rip the eyeballs out of the major insurance companies with impunity.

I WILL continue to use the Breztri as long as I my insurance helps before being sucked into the donut hole. Then I’ll have to see how many months I’m going to have to struggle through paying the higher price and how much that increase is going to be.

The thing is you take two puffs of the stuff in the morning and two puffs at night. It DOES open my lungs up after taking it. I can take much deeper breaths than before the dose. But, of course, it doesn’t last all day. I kind of feel that the second dose is wasted since I’m sleeping though it and am not active. (Not that I’m THAT active during the day if I can avoid it…)

So, I asked my doctor at my most recent visit if I could get away with just taking the morning dose and forget the evening dose which would effectively cut my cost in half. I really appreciated his response…

“As your physician I have to say you need to take both doses as prescribed. As a person who knows and appreciates your financial situation I’d say cut back to once a day and see how you function doing that.” That’s good medical advice in my book!

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