Pills and more pills

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I’ve put this off for too long- actually sorting through my medications, counting the pills i have in my stockpile, creating a list for it, and putting it neatly into a pretty shoebox. I’ve packed my stash several times, but it was always shabby and just dumped into a box which is twice (or more) as large as the Massimo Dutti shoebox they are in now. But they were just dismal and in such a mess as well as a bother. For the longest time i know.

And now, it’s all neat and pretty, with an inventory to go along with it, and a stockpile that’s getting smaller in size. Yay!!! I used card paper, cut them and then labelled them by sticking on tabs, and used them to divide my medications by alphabetical order. I initially wanted to divide them by indications (like for RA, sleep etc), but having an array of indications, it seemed easier to put them alphabetically. Your call!!!

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I have about 21 different drugs on my inventory. Some as drugs as few in number as 6, like prochlorperazine(Stemetil). Some drugs as many in number as 284 for sulfasalazine(SSZ), and 229 for prednisolone. My stockpile of HCQ has dramatically reduced to as little as 34, which means i can fill HCQ prescriptions, like finally, after such a looooooong time not doing so. Now it’s time to reduce the stockpile i have for SSZ, and probably never ever fill prednisolone prescriptions till i finish 229 pills of it. (I do realise that my reluctance with taking steroids might mean never ever finishing them by expiration.)

Rheumy appointment (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!) next Wednesday, and i hope SSZ doesn’t get discontinued for me.

I’ve been paying quite a bit for a certain 2 branded drugs, and they are very expensive especially when i take these drugs everyday. 4 pills a day for one, and 3 pills a day for another. They are very taxing on the pocket, no kidding. It stresses me that they can actually cost so much a month, especially when i start working again and pay for everything myself once more. With this realisation, i am so very GRATEFUL for paying subsidized rates for my RA drugs. With branded drugs and its exorbitant prices, i am more prudent with the stash i have at home, and i make sure that i don’t buy more than what i need (opposite to what i used to do with generic RA drugs). Imagine having a hundreds of dollars worth of stockpile, if i do stockpile them like HCQ and SSZ. *zzZzZZzzzZz*

I read in the papers today, about Enbrel(etanercept) and its patent expiring some time in October 2012. That’s about a year from now. I was… Glad actually! Because when drug patents expire, what it means for patients is that there is another option for a similar drug at a lower price. It can be good news if the branded drug has been immensely expensive. But it dawned upon me that patent expiration does NOT mean that a generic version is available. Moreover such biologic agents can be very difficult to produce. The slight hope that i had for another chance at Enbrel and a chance for a remission?

KAPUT.

In my short-lived happiness knowing that Enbrel patent expires next October, i quickly searched and found out the expiration dates of the older biologic agents, and was disappointed all the same. (I’ve tried my best to obtain accurate information, but hey may not be accurate, and if accurate at time of posting, the expiration dates may also be extended in future.) Humira’s(adalimumab) patent expires in 2016. Remicade’s(infliximab) patent expires in 2018. Orencia’s(abatacept) patent expires in 2019.

That’s a long time. I don’t know how long it’ll take for generic versions to be produced, if there are going to be any attempts to do so. Even if generic versions are produced, i will hazard a guess that prices will not be greatly reduced. They will still run in the thousands (especially for Remicade), or at best about a thousand dollars (Enbrel). Still very unaffordable for me, and not worth the moolah for a remission. I guess i shall STOP thinking about biologic agents and a chance of remission.

And live and think reality.

I had my follow-up with my shrink last week (which reminds me i’m seeing him again later in the day), and what he said confirmed my all-time suspicions. My all-time suspicion that some of us healthcare professionals are actually slapping our own mouths as we tell our patients to take with diligence their medications. It happens that he does not like taking pills, and he admitted that while having a bad bout of gastritis and seeing patients. Oh bother. I actually chuckled when he said it, and if i had my bring-along stash of meds, i’d offer him an antacid and an omeprazole pill. Being a patient and not a nurse, i then challenged him with issues of medication compliance. 🙂 Some thing one can do to put the healthcare professional into perspective about our difficulties as patients.

Ok. No more talk of drugs. I’ll end it here for this post, and i’ll talk more if i have anymore new ‘revelations’.

p.s. I am going to make a card listing up-to-date information about the drugs i take and my drug allergy. I’m contemplating adding a list of drugs which i will adamantly refuse as well. Makes things so much easier when i have to see doctors, or any nurse/pharmacist/dietician for that matter. Will put it up here if i do!!! I’m positive it’ll make things easier!!!

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