Paying for Name Brand Osteoarthritis Medicine: There has to be a way!

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis many years ago (and of course began a wide variety of surgeries, joint replacements, prescriptions, and lotions, creams, and potions), and I've sometimes struggled with my meds.  Very few prescriptions seemed to have a positive effect on my osteoarthritis and others left me with side effects that I don't even want to talk about.   Because many of my readers have osteoarthritis, I'm SURE that I don't have to explain that comment!!!


    I figure that I've been called (hopefully in jest) a dizzy dame often enough that I really don't need a prescription to make me dizzy and make my balance even more precarious.  The headaches, nausea, dry mouth and other lovely things were just way too much for me, so, in general, I'd rather "gut it out" than feel more impaired.  My physician finally had me try Mobic (the brand name) and, much to our joy, it really seemed to help --particularly on those days that pain was excruciating.

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    When the generic came out, of course my insurance company TOLD me to switch to it.

    Since I raised 3 kids as a single parent, I'm very aware of costs and expenses, and hopedthe insurance company as well as I would save a little money -- after all, aren't genericsthe SAME???  The Mobic generic, Meloxicam, was a waste of time and had no beneficialeffects for me, so after talking to my doctor, I stopped taking it.  Because I will beleaving very soon to work in Africa, I again talked to my doctor and she agreed to writeanother prescription for me for Mobic -- to take with me in case my osteoarthritis pain became worse.


    Sounds logical, doesn't it? But, much to my horror, I received a call from the pharmacy informing me that the insurance company stated that they would pay the first $250 PER MONTH for my Mobic, but I would have to pay the rest ($259 PER MONTH).  It took a little while to get over the shock, but I refused to take it.  I honestly don't quite understand how an insurance company, whose employees have little or no medical training, can make these decisions!  At first, I refused it simply because I can't afford that added expense, but then I became angry, disgusted, frustrated, or whatever you want to call it.  How are they allowed to dictate what my doctor feels is in my best interest?


    The reality is, I know that there are far worse horror stories out there that my readers have either experienced or know about through their family and friends.  What can we do? There has to be a way!


    In addition, I found that my Atenelol (I've been on it for years to regulate my blood pressure) might interact with the Mefloquine I need to take to prevent Malaria, so with a week before I leave, the doctor and pharmacy are suddenly needing to change me to a different med (Lisinopril) which seems to have little effect on my blood pressure so far, but leaves me with that lovely metallic taste in my mouth. In my spare time of course, I need to go in for lab work to be sure this new med isn't having an adverse effect. 


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    I read recently on CNN's Empowered Patient column about Brand Names vs. Generics.  I felt that the writers were more concerned about the "legalities" of medicines, which I understand, but they didn't really focus on the "actuality" -- me, the patient -- that I need affordable health care.  Luckily, my health insurance has really been pretty good until this recent incident, but it scares me that this just might be the beginning of a trend for those insurance companies.


    A close friend who happens to be in the medical field mentioned that maybe I could find a cure for my osteoarthritis while visiting some families in Africa that practice natural healing with herbs.  After we laughed, it suddenly hit me that this might not be such a dumb idea to look into -- after all, I did have a curandero (Spanish for healer or healing medicine man) bless me in Peru, a priest bless me in Rome, a "witch doctor" dance a healing ceremony in Botswana, Africa, and I also got a tattoo from a medicine man in the Rainforests of Peru.

    Gee, maybe I AM on the right track after all. At least for 3 ½ months I won't have to listen to this sort of thing.





Published On: May 30, 2008