Saturday, March 10, 2012

down with the man!

Client had seen us a few days ago because his cat had been attacked by another animal and developed an abscess. The wound was treated, and his cat was sent home with a liquid antibiotic.  This medication must be kept in the refigerator, and the client was informed of this.  We even put a "keep refrigerated" sticker on the box as a reminder.

The client called today because he left the antibiotic out on the counter for 2 days, and could no longer use it.  He needed to replace the bottle.  No problem, come right on down and pick it up!

But there was a problem.

My technician fielded the call.
Client: "I shouldn't have to pay for this second bottle of antibiotics" he claimed.  "I already payed the mark-up on the first one, and the second one should be at cost.  You know, those pharmaceutical companies are just taking over the world, man, and it isn't fair."

 "..... But we told you to keep in the fridge?"

"Yeah, you did. And I forgot."

".... and so you admit that it's your fault the antibiotic can't be used?"

"Yeah. I'm not arguing that.  I'm arguing that since I already paid the mark up, I shouldn't have to pay again. The government, man, they're taking over.  And it's guys like you, the bureaucracy, man, that's making this country bad. I've got to stand, up, man, and take a stand."

"Okay, so I understand your frustration, however I'm not able to change the prices; our prices reflect the cost of keeping our doors open.  If you've ever taken economics, you'd understand the importance of fixed costs, which have to be distrubted over the entire business.  For example, we don't charge you for the water or electricity you use while you're here - and those costs, among all the other things we have to pay for, are spread out over everything we do.  Secondly, you admit that it was your error that resulted in the mistake.  We can't be responsible to pay the mistakes of all our clients.  Third, we have nothing to do with the government, or pharmaceutical companies, other than we need drugs to treat our patients. You are welcome to come down and pick up your medicine, but it will be $X.xx, just like last time."

"Well, I'm standing up for myself and I'll tell anyone who will listen.  This country is unjust and the government is takin--

"I'm sorry sir, I'm hanging up now.  I can't debate politics with you, and I have patients and emergencies to tend to.  If you want to pay for the medication, you can come get it anytime."


  1. As a pharmacist, I've had patients ask me to replace meds that were left out of the fridge (or refrigerated when they shouldn't be, e.g. Biaxin, Cleocin), spilled, bottle broke, left it in Philadelphia, etc.

    Then they want to know how come they have to pay for it. "Couldn't you just give it to me?"

    Well, besides the fact that for any question beginning "Couldn't you just" the answer is usually No, I have to pay for that stuff to my wholesaler. Human meds are complicated by the fact that insurance companies pay the bulk of the cost, leaving a copay which on some more expensive items (Suprax) can be a tiny fraction of the cost. Patients are used to paying this small amount, and think that's what they really cost, but the insurance won't pay for a med that (per the directions for use) you should still have a sufficient quantity of.

    One patient couldn't comprehend why I couldn't simply give it to her; I finally said, "Look. If you go to Wal-Mart and buy a floor lamp, and your kids knock it over and break it, would you go back there and demand that they give you another one free?"