As I sat in the drive-through at the pharmacy, my baby in the backseat wailed in pain. We went straight there from the doctor’s office once the doctor confirmed what I suspected. My baby boy had an ear infection.
I waited impatiently in the car as his cries grew more urgent. I couldn’t wait to get him home. The doctor didn’t tell me what she was giving him and I didn’t ask.
The pharmacist returned to the window with the prescription written by the doctor. I smiled with relief. She gave the directions for taking the medicine and said, “the total is $89.00.”
“With my insurance?” I asked in disbelief. I wondered what the difference was from the medicine that he was given six months ago with the last ear infection. That co-pay was $11.00.
“Is it available in a generic?” It wasn’t.
I wanted to call the doctor to see if a different medicine was an option but it was after 5 p.m. The doctor’s office was closed. In the backseat, my son let out a whimper. So I took out my credit card and paid for the prescription.
“Be careful with the bottle,” the pharmacist told me, “it is one of the only drugs like this that comes in a glass container.” It turns out that tip would be helpful to me in the future.
I realize that doctors can’t possibly know what different drugs will cost their patients, however, if they had a general idea of the cost compared to similar drugs, it would benefit many people. I wish the doctor would have told me if there was something special about this drug that would justify the expensive price.
A few months later, we were at the doctor’s office again. The same unhappy boy, pulling at his ear. When the doctor wrote the prescription this time, I asked questions.
I didn’t remember the name but remembered the container. When I found out this drug was the same expensive one in the glass bottle, I asked how it compared to other, less expensive antibiotics.
The doctors told me there were other medicine options and changed the prescription. Apparently, there wasn’t anything special about this drug, other than the high price.