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Is your medication out of stock? Here’s how to get it anyway

Vox: “..Before you do too much work, it’s worth seeing whether an independent pharmacy in your area can locate a supply of the drug you need. They’re less likely to just say “We’re out of stock — we can’t get it,” says Beckner. “They’re going to explore other means to try to obtain that drug.” That may mean calling around to smaller drug wholesalers or buying a small quantity of a medication that might not be on the radar of a drugstore that buys medications by the pallet. You can find a local independent pharmacy using the NCPA’s pharmacy locator website. If you’re still unable to get the medication you need, here’s what Bray counsels people to do. Parts of this process are things patients must do on their own, but Bray is happy to help people who get stuck at any point along the way and welcomes contact by phone or email.
1) Look for the generic form of the drug in the two drug shortage databases that contain all the information available to the American public about specific medicines’ availability: the one maintained by the FDA and the one run by the ASHP. They’re similar, although the ASHP database has a lower threshold for reporting a shortage, says Bray. This first step helps patients determine not only which brands and dosages of a drug are unavailable, but also which are available.
2) Call your insurance company, ask to speak with a manager, explain that you are affected by a drug shortage, and ask them to give you coverage for whatever alternative form, brand, or dose of the drug you might be able to get access to. The reason to do this is that insurance companies cut deals with various drug intermediaries — called pharmacy benefit managers — for specific medicines within each class of drugs and specific dosages of those medicines. Ostensibly, they do this so they can buy those specific medicines in bulk quantities at a discount and cover most of their cost when they are prescribed to you. The list of medicines and dosages an insurance company covers, its hot list of sorts, is called its formulary. But where there’s a hot list, there’s a not list: If you’re prescribed a dosage or brand of a medicine that isn’t on your insurer’s formulary, or a similar medicine that isn’t on its formulary, the company won’t cover it — and you’ll have to pay for it out of pocket, which can be wildly expensive…”

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