Saturday, February 18, 2012

Now there’s a generic Concerta!

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It’s funny, the way you find out about things sometimes. 

For example, I only recently found out that there is now a generic form of Concerta when my neurologist got multiple letters from an insurance company saying that they would only pay for the generic form of Concerta for people with ADD and that his patients needed to switch.  When I came in to get my monthly prescription, he called me into his office to switch me too, apparently forgetting that I don’t have ADD but Narcolepsy.  We switched me to the generic anyways, just in case the insurance companies decided to send him a letter about me as well.

I would have thought that doctors wouldn’t even prescribe the regular Concerta if there was a generic, but apparently I was wrong!

So, hooray for generic Concerta, all you Concerta takers!

Of course, having a generic doesn’t make much of a difference for me because I have German public health insurance (it actually doesn’t make any difference in what I pay), but it makes me happy knowing that there is one, both for all of you, and in case I should ever move back to the U.S. 

I feel so lucky to have such good health insurance here in Germany, even though we do pay a lot for it because we are in a high income bracket (you pay according to your income, plus fees for some things).  I know some people in the U.S. think that the government should stay out of health care and that perhaps the government is already too involved, but I’m not sure these people realize how great the benefits could be for them if we let our government get more involved. 

Yes, I do pay according to my income (to a certain maximum amount) for my insurance, but in return I get all the coverage I need, plus the knowledge that no matter what happens to me medically, I will never go bankrupt from medical expenses (or at least, it’s extremely unlikely).  I personally know many Americans who are opposed to having a system like our German one (although contrary to what you might think, our German system is run by private companies so you can pick your insurance company and what it covers), but in my opinion it’s hard to argue that the German system doesn’t have great benefits.  I won’t go into this topic too much more because I know that it is politically sensitive, but now that I am married and have German insurance, I get my monthly Concerta for 10 Euros a prescription (yes, 10 Euros each for each of my Concertas!!).  Birth control pills are not covered by insurance, but they are only 50 Euros for 6 months worth.  I pay a 10 Euro fee once each quarter to see a doctor(!), and then I can see any other doctor without paying for the duration of that quarter of a year.  My avian flu shot was free, etc., etc. 

Of course, the system doesn’t cover everything (for example, my private insurance covered acupuncture for lots of things, my current one only covers it for back problems), and sometimes it makes things difficult.  For example, I’m now seeing a private psychologist because I just couldn’t find a public one that speaks English and has room for new patients.  I am told that I could document the lack of a suitable psychologist in a painsaking manner (ie providing documentation that I’ve visited a number of psychologists and rejected them) in order to get my company to pay for a private person – and perhaps I will do that in the future – but for now I’m just going to pay for it privately.  I am actually lucky to have both private and public insurance, as my husband’s company pays for us to have private, so that’s not a problem.

I’m don’t mean to boast, I just think a lot of Americans don’t realize what a bad deal they are getting when it comes to health care when it comes to cost.  I mean, I think most Americans would agree that our system has big problems (especially when it comes to cost of care for some things – even if you have great insurance!), but many people imagine that things would be even worse – in quality of care, in what you pay, in availability of care, etc. – if we had a public system (in addition to a private one) and the government negotiated prices and so forth.  I think this is really sad, because, as I know from personal experience, there are a lot of benefits to be had from the government getting involved.  (And yes, need I say it, but in my opinion a system similar to the German one would be better for  upper middle class and wealthy people with “good” health insurance too!)

Here’s one more example of what a bad deal we’re getting, and then we’ll call it a day:  when I had private insurance and had to pay for things out of pocket, my two Concerta prescriptions (1 pill 36 mg and 1 pill 18 mg per day) together cost about 110 Euros per month… without any insurance at all!  That’s the normal price here.  If my memory serves me well, it would have cost me at least 300 to 400 dollars (I think it was 400) to buy the same medicine in the U.S. four years ago, without insurance.  With insurance, it would have been a $30 copay per prescription. 

But it gets even better… this medicine that I am buying in Germany is made in the U.S. and imported to Germany.  Which brings me to the shocking part, if you are an American: all of this means that it costs at least twice (if not three times) as much to buy American-made non-generic Concerta in the U.S. as it costs to buy it in Germany (without insurance).

This is part of what people are talking about when they talk about American pharmaceutical companies making a killing in the U.S. and a lot less in Europe… and how we need to also start negotiating prices and letting the government get more involved if we want better prices.

I am happy that President Obama managed to pass changes in health care, but I personally would have liked to see us switch to a public health care system more like Germany’s.  Hopefully things will get better once all the changes go into effect. 

I would like to think that this is a move in the right direction. 

On a more personal note, I personally think it is hard enough having a sleep disorder like Narcolepsy without having to stress about how to pay for your treatment, and unfortunately some of medicines used to treat Narcolepsy are very expensive. 

So, hooray again that one more Narcolepsy medicine has gone generic!

God bless you!

P.S.  If anyone has any specific things they would like me to write about that I haven’t already talked about, I would love it if you would mention it here or send me an e-mail.

3 comments:

  1. Hi! I'm Wendy....I was diagnosed with narcolepsy when I was 14 years old....almost 24 years ago. I wanted to comment on your Concerta post. I was thrilled when I found out that there was a generic because my month supply of Concerta 54mg normally costs about $240 without insurance. I was inbetween jobs, so had to pay the full amount. :( When I went to pick up my generic, it is $210.....not much of a difference at all. I was rather disappointed! Luckily, I am back on my insurance this month and will have a $40 co-pay. I agree it is frustrating enough living with narcolepsy....it shouldn't be so hard to get the medicine I need to help me function as a normal person. Love your post!!

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  2. I have just been diagnosed with narcolepsy, I'm 34, female, artist living in NYC. Took my first Provigil today and it relaxed me. This medication is a big hope for me as I stopped being able to function during the day, I just pass out for hours. Since I can not function, I can not produce, I stopped being social, can not enjoy playing with my 5 yr old son and this lead to major depression with suicide contemplation. My father got fired from numerous jobs for falling asleep, he also had sleep apnea. I remember starting to get tired around 15 yrs old. I had amazing career opportunities and was too tired to work as much as it was expected. I have never had a full time job, 2 weeks of working everyday equals another 2 weeks of sleeping. I have been diagnosed with CFS as well, perhaps Im just narcoleptic. Are you able to hold a full time job btw? How many hours can you work per day? Have you noticed any hair loss from Concerta? I have tried Wellbutrin and Lamictal, both these medications cause severe hair loss. Thanks so much and I am glad to find you:))

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  3. Generic for Provigil just came out in April. Already got it ...started at 100mg then up to 200mg...Ended up giving me the same symptoms I had gotten the 2 times I tried Nuvigil. These symptoms are similar to what the Steven Johnson warnings are. So actually...Sysmptoms are too similar to last time calling doc in morning. I want a test for SJS or I'm done with daytime meds since the others are not an option for me....man I need some kind of solution. Thought u might want to blog on that generic as well. If you need more info let me know. (It's not really a generic the name brand company and one other company buy them from the same place and they are even stamped Provigil not Modafonil....I have a bottle from each...stock bottles at that. So it's just cheaper for those on the name brand who have the unfounded phobia of the generic being different....most generics only differ in a fillers that might be used. I say most cause Thyroid meds and other examples do not work the same way.)

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