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Medicine Dilemma

December 28, 2008
by Kathleen Mears
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I thought I would share a medication dilemma that has happened in the last week. I have been taking a pediatric dose of Erythromycin for my bowel and bladder for several years. In the last year the pharmacy used by the facility has been slow in filling my Erythromycin prescription. They frequently were late with it and had to be reminded. Many times my Erythromycin had to be drop shipped because I had missed doses. I have been frustrated that it has not arrived consistently.

A few months ago the pharmacy said that the Erythromycin that I have been taking (oral suspension) was no longer being manufactured. They said they would send a powder that would be mixed with water. I chatted with my doctor and he assured me that the pediatric dose was still being manufactured because he prescribes it many times a week in his general practice.

I asked my physician if he wanted to stop the Erythromycin. I told him that I felt we would continue to have problems with the pharmacy. I also asked if maybe Medicare Part D and Medicaid might no longer want to pay for it. But he said he did not want to stop the medicine. The pharmacy never did send the powder. Instead, they sent one week's supply of the liquid erythromycin at a time.

In the middle of December I was told the adult pediatric Erythromycin was being discontinued and that they were sending a pediatric Erythromycin for me. That was certainly doublespeak to me. But I went along with it hoping that they had finally resolved a year-long problem. On Christmas night I was told that the pharmacy would not be sending the pediatric Erythromycin because my insurer would not pay for it. I was a bit startled but not completely surprised. After all we have gone through twelve months of my Erythromycin frequently not showing up. .

It is three days later and there is still no Erythromycin. Inquiries have been made but so far nothing has been resolved. Prior authorization of the Erythromycin was mentioned but with Christmas and the weekend, I doubt that anyone has worked on it. The explanations I received with no contingency plan concerned me. My physician also does not yet know about it and other concerns here will take precedence. After all I know my situation is not life threatening.

I suppose every day pharmacies stop providing drugs to residents of nursing homes. I cannot remember a drug situation like this from my prenursing home life. I am sure if one of my drugs back then was recalled or discontinued, my physician gave me an alternative or reassured me about changing or stopping that medication.

I feel like my choices are altered because of where I live and who provides my medicines. This is the first time in my life that I have had any type of drug coverage; prior to that, I paid cash for all my medicines.

I am not satisfied that there was a glitch or that everything changes eventually. Neither explanation tells me anything. I want a better answer and I will try to get one from someone. It is difficult for me to use the phone but I will do it anyway tomorrow.

I am trying to stay calm and I hope that doing without the medicine will not harm me.

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Update: My doctor discontinued the Erythromycin.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...