Thursday, January 8, 2009

Now Wasn’t That Easy?

Yesterday afternoon I drove to a local Bioscrip Pharmacy and picked up my monthly order of GCSF shots, the Neupogen that costs $275 per day. I am now only taking it five times per week instead of six, so that's only $1375 per week.

When I first started up the G shots, as they're called, late last spring, I did not realize until it was too late that my insurance company would not pay for them unless they came from this particular mail-order pharmacy called Bioscrip. Even though I was at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and even though they had my first prescription filled and waiting for me, I could not take it away with me without paying about $7,000 out of pocket. Uniform, my health insurance company, did allow me to have the shot administered at the clinic, however, so every day for a week I took at minimum 45 minutes out of my day and went into the SCCA where someone else gave me the shot I've given myself for a total of about a year now (counting previous times), almost every day. Total cost to the insurance company for that? Almost $700 per dose.

I've been vaguely annoyed by the mail order system ever since. In part it's because there is, necessarily, a huge amount of packaging for the size of the drug, because the drug must remain refrigerated. So every month, we've received a box full of Styrofoam, with at least four frozen gel-packs inside. Now, the occasional extra gel-pack can be useful. The occasional extra 20 gel-packs were just annoying and, when we acquired a bunch of fish that needed our freezer space, wasteful. Not to mention the Styrofoam. Also, the syringes that they sent me weren't awful, per se, but they were a larger gauge than the ones from the SCCA. I mean, why not automatically go with the smallest gauge available??? I started simply buying syringes from the SCCA, out of my own pocket, rather than inject myself with the ones Bioscrip sent.

Then, about a month ago, my prescription went missing. Bioscrip does not require you to sign for your package, although they allow you to do so. Since I am not in the habit of sitting at home waiting for mail, particularly mail having to do with cancer, which is merely an aspect of my life and not my whole life, I chose not to sign for my packages. After all, nothing has ever been stolen off my front porch, in the almost nine years that I've lived here. Also, I found over the summer that occasionally the package was not delivered on the day I was told it would be.

Anyway, this shipment a month ago was supposed to be delivered on a Friday, and it wasn't. On Monday I called Bioscrip, and they said that, in fact, FedEx showed that they had delivered the package on Friday. I clearly did not have one; a trace was begun, and I pointed out that, even if the package were found, the drug, which needed to be refrigerated, was unlikely to still be viable, even with the overabundance of gel-packs. I then had to call Uniform and see if they could authorize an emergency pick-up by me of another set of the drug from a local pharmacy because I was clearly not going to get one from Bioscrip in time; this they did, and I had the pleasure of simply buying it from the SCCA when I was there for a treatment. I ultimately called Bioscrip back and let them know that things had worked out for the month (I also actually saw the FedEx driver a couple days later, and she swore she had delivered the package—of course she knew my house, she'd delivered there before—and whatnot). If someone had stolen it, I'm sure he or she was disappointed. It doesn't do anything you can tell on your own, without drawing your blood, except maybe give you bone pain. Fun.

The guy I talked to during my last call to Bioscrip pointed out that I could probably ask to sign for my packages, and that would make all of this better. I pointed out that I had a life other than sitting at home waiting all day for drugs, and that I was sorry a shipment got lost, but I was not going to change my habits. Then he said "How close are you to Broadway?"

And I said "Broadway Street, in Seattle?"

And he said "Yeah—we have a pharmacy there—maybe you could just pick up your prescription from the Seattle pharmacy."


And so, yesterday I drove to Broadway, which is not that far from my house, and picked up my G shots. And brought them home and put them in my fridge. And put no gel-packs in my freezer or the garbage, and no Styrofoam in a closet or a land fill. Already I feel better.


Misty Baskett said...

I could use a few gel packs if you have a few to spare. :-)

CMT said...

Well now, I think we actually threw them all out when we got the six pound sablefish. But I'll certainly look, because any we have are certainly "spare" ;)