Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pre Nicaragua Malarial Meds

I leave for Nicaragua in just a few days. Between now and then, I have a mountain of schoolwork to get through. And unfortunately, I had to spend a few hours this week trying to sort out medication - time that would be much better spent writing papers.

I'm going to be on the Corn Islands off the coast of Nicaragua for an entire month. According to the Interwebs, I'm visiting a malaria zone.

There are essentially three malaria drugs on the market:
Larium = which gives you psychotic nightmares and has lead to suicide in a few travelers.
Doxycycline = a mild antibiotic which makes you highly sensitive to the sun.
Malarone = a newish-drug with few if any side effects, except for the fact that it'll cripple your wallet, at $6-10 per pill.

I live in the US, and so, I have to use private health insurance, which totally sucks, and refuses to cover anti-malarial drugs unless I'm already sick. They'll only pay for the meds if I've got a fever and am facing death. Lovely.

The purpose of this blog post is to document the steps I took this week to find my drugs on the cheap...

I don't want to have psychotic nightmares, and since I'm going to an island to sit on the beach, being sensitive to the sun is a really bad idea. That left me with Malarone, which for a 30 day trip + 8 days you're required to take the pill afterwards, would have cost me $190.

Glaxo, the drug company that makes Malarone, has a program to provide free/cheap drugs to people on a low income. As an underpaid graduate student, I instantly qualified. Using this program, I was able to get Glaxo to give me a 30 day supply of the meds for the cost of a $10 co-pay, and a $20 office visit to get the university's travel nurse to write me an rx, and call up Glaxo to register me.

Glaxo only lets you get 30 pills per year, which meant that I'd have to pay for 8 pills out of pocket.

To get the last 8, I called around to all the pharmacies in town, and found out that SAMS Club/Target would sell me the 8 pills for approx $46.

A bit of googling, and I found that CVS pharmacy will give customers a $25 gift card when they come in with a new prescription. It didn't take me more than 10 minutes of searching online to find a coupon that I had to print out and bring with me.

Even better than that, the pharmacies all seem to pricematch each other. CVS seemed to be quite willing to pricematch the SAMS Club price.

So, in the end, I paid:

$20 for the doctor's office visit.
$10 co-pay for the 30 pills which Glaxo gave me.
$46 for the 8 pills purchased at CVS, which matched SAMS Club
-$25 a gift card that CVS gave me.

Total price = $51
Price of not getting Malarial fever on holiday = priceless.


jarna said...

hey, amazing...can you tell me where dıd you stay ın paradise beach? and a websıte or tel number? thnaks. take care

Christopher Soghoian said...

Om Shanti Guesthouse - which is really just a few huts on the beach.

No website/phone. Just show up (catch a boat from the main beach in gokarna).

Anonymous said...

thanks chris!
you saved me a bunch of $$$$$$
it took a little convincing my doctor to help me sign up for the GlaxoSmithKline program but well worth the hassle. I saved $250 of my malarone.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.