OF DRUGS AND RECTAL PAIN
I had a patient last week who was a real pain in the ass. Wait. No. He was actually a really nice guy. He wasn’t a pain in the ass, he had a real pain in the ass. Literally.
I was initially concerned about a pilonidal cyst, given the unfortunate fact that he was previously afflicted with this condition (which I consider to be incontrovertible proof of Satan). But, fortunately to him, his pain was literally “in the ass,” and that rules out the evil diagnosis, moving my thoughts to a condition called proctalgia fugax (which is a Latin person’s way of saying: “butt pain that comes and goes”).
I realize this doesn’t sound much like good news on my patient’s part, but, as opposed to the lousy surgery necessary for treatment of a pilonidal cyst, an effective treatment for this is fairly simple (and surprising): nitroglycerin ointment applied to the rectum. Nitroglycerin, it turns out, relaxes smooth muscles and dilates blood vessels, both of which somehow can improve the distressing symptoms of this strange condition (as well as pain from other related proctological demonic attacks). I’m not sure who had the idea to first try this, or what their inspiration was. Perhaps they misheard the term Angina Pectoris as Angina Rectalis.
I did my usual search at GoodRx.com (a website everyone should use as often as possible) to see where the drug is cheapest. . According to the literature, the appropriate strength of nitroglycerin for rectal use (cleverly called “Rectiv”) is 0.4%. This seemed a pretty high price for a medication which has long been generic, so I searched for generic nitroglycerin ointment (used for pain due to heart disease) . The only difference between the two that I can tell is that that preparation (called NitroBid) is 2%.
While these seem reasonable, I suspect a different reason: the company which makes Rectiv, Allergan (which also makes Botox), has cornered the market on 0.4% nitroglycerin, and so can charge exorbitant amounts for a medication with no other discernible reason to be expensive (it certainly took little R & D cost, and doesn’t regularly get advertised during the evening news).
All pharmacies do this, in my experience, so you can’t count on any one pharmacy to have cheap prices. To get inexpensive medications, you must shop around and be willing to go to multiple pharmacies for multiple medications. It’s a game they play that usually works, as most folks either don’t know about this, or they just don’t want to bother going to multiple pharmacies.
These games come at a great cost, dramatically raising the cost of care for millions of Americans. It is legal. It is done all the time. And it is gouging. And this gouging isn’t unique to the pharmaceutical industry, as labs and radiology providers have their tricks to make enormous profit margins on the services they provide.
Fortunately for this my patient, I was not only able to reunite him with the joys of sitting, but I was able, with a little research, to find him his proctological savior at a low cost. Unfortunately, most patients don’t have docs who are economically incentivized to save them money, and most people don’t realize all of the games played by pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies to routinely perform wallet biopsies, nor do they know how to find the cheapest prices for their medications.
I don’t know what can be done about this kind of thing aside from increasing awareness. I’m not real confident in any government solution. People just need to be smarter shoppers when it comes to their care. It’s just a shame that people who are dealing with health problems (even if it is just trouble sitting) have to outsmart the gaming done by those supposedly trying to help them.Поділитися цим: