Imminent Bipolar Medication Change

bipolar medication

Thinking back about ten years ago two things come to mind. First, was meeting Maurice, the man I look forward to spending the rest of my life with. The second thing is not pleasant. It was right after I met Maurice that my life spiraled downwards. Looking back at my life I can clearly see times of mania and most certainly times of depression. It was ten years ago, however that both walloped me full force and I began rapid cycling between the two. It was a horrific time in my life and I’m grateful that Maurice stuck with me and helped me get through it all.

Med Suggestions

I generally have a rule with this blog that I not talk about specific meds. This is because a med that may work for you, may not work for me. What works for Joanie might not work for Jenny, what works for Billy may not work for Bobby…you get the point. Mentioning meds by name can change people instantly into doctors and cause them to suggest everyone should take whatever they’re taking. Even worse, they may start telling people they should not be taking specific meds. Of course, my readers would never do that, so I don’t anticipate that being a problem. Right?

What I Take

I take six meds a day and one of those that greatly improved my quality of life is Abilify. Specifically, it helps reduce my confusion. Before finding Abilify I was unable to have a conversation longer than a minute or two. At one point, I was so disoriented after going to the restroom at a movie theater, that I had no idea which theater to go back to. I became lost, scared and sat on a bench and cried.

Trial and Error

For about three years my pdoc’s and I went through the process that most people with bipolar go through – finding the meds that work. This period consists of trying a med for awhile to see if it works. Then, if it doesn’t work, you frequently have to take time to wean yourself off the med, then slowly try another one. You continue doing this over and over until the one that works for you is found. One med, which is used to treat thousands, not only did not work for me, it made me violent and I attacked Maurice. Simply, it’s a difficult time to go through.

Changes

So, I’m 430 words into this post and I still haven’t got to the point. Well, here it is. After being on Abilify for six or seven years my med provider, through Medi-Cal, determined to no longer supply it. As a result, the cost to me became $500/mo. That’s a bit pricey for someone who lives on Social Security. My pdoc, not wanting to go through the trial and error period again, began giving me boxes of samples every month. For the past year, that’s how I was able to continue to take it.

Doing it All Again

Exciting news came in the Fall of last year. Abilify was finally going generic in 2016. I continued with the samples until now, waiting for the generic to come out. Lo and behold, the bad news is that the generic prices are much cheaper, but the lowest co-pay my doctor has been able to find through pharmacies is $180. Still too much for someone on Social Security. And note, that I said that was the lowest cost my pdoc could find. He so badly wanted to avoid finding me a different med, that he took it upon himself to call around town for quotes.

Because the med had gone generic, the company that supplies Abilify, no longer provides samples. Last week my pdoc gave me his last 30 day samples he had on hand and we finally talked about the inevitable – we were going to have to find something new. The trial and error period will begin next month. Neither of us is looking forward to it.

Canada

Turns out the imminent may not be so imminent. Since I talked to my pdoc last week, someone suggested one option – order the drugs through Canada. I did a search and found a company that can provide 30 pills for $26. Still pretty pricey for someone living on disability, but a helluva lot better than $180. I’m told this is technically illegal, but thousands of people from the USA get their meds in the mail via Canada. Apparently the Feds turn a blind eye. I guess they have bigger fish to fry.

For my U.S. friends, have you tried this, or know someone who has? Did it turn out to be as great of a deal as it seems? I’m thrilled that this may be the right answer, but it seems so good that I’m a tad bit skeptical.

  14 comments for “Imminent Bipolar Medication Change

  1. Bonnie
    February 13, 2016 at 04:47

    Hi Brad. My friend uses Thrifty White Pharmacy, recommend by her doctor. It’s a pharmacy in the US but has low prices. Give a call.

  2. dr Claire
    February 11, 2016 at 12:48

    Abilify is a unique medication that has an unusual mechanism of action, and it is the only drug of its class, so there is no real replacement for it. I would encourage you to stay on it. If you need a handwritten script, I can help.

    • Bradley
      February 11, 2016 at 13:07

      No wonder he’s been putting it off so long. I’ll talk with him on my next visit and will let you know if I need assistance. Thank you very much.

  3. Claire
    February 11, 2016 at 12:42

    BTW that was me in the previous comment!
    I write electronic scripts to pharmacies all day long, but they can also be printed out on a printer in the office where I work, for those who want hard copies.

  4. Anonymous
    February 11, 2016 at 12:41

    As a Canadian psychiatrist, I can assure that the meds are as good if not better. the reason they are so cheap is due to a longstanding law that prohibits brand names from lasting more than 5 years. That permits lots of competition with generics. Also, secondly, the Canadian dollar is worth 71cents USD.

    • Bradley
      February 11, 2016 at 13:04

      I’m not concerned about the Canadian meds being less than, just was wondering how the process works. Thank you for the reassurance

  5. Bradley
    February 11, 2016 at 12:05

    This whole Canada thing is sounding good. A concern I have is that my pdoc works for the county and they are required to send all prescriptions to the drug stores directly on their pc’s. If there’s a workaround, I’m sure he’ll find it.

  6. Deb
    February 11, 2016 at 11:55

    Order from CA. It’s easy and works. I can give you a number.

    • Bradley
      February 11, 2016 at 12:00

      Thank you, Deb

  7. February 11, 2016 at 10:58

    I was facing $800/mo., but generic and ACA insurance got it down to $25, which I can handle. I really sweated there for a while. Abilify was one of the two meds that really turned things around for me.

    • February 11, 2016 at 11:09

      How were you able to get it down? Did you have to make calls, or was that just what the price was? I’m still sweating.

      • February 11, 2016 at 13:55

        The insurance brought it down to $125 or so. Then when the generic came out it dropped to $25. I did go to the compant website andgot my first couple of months free. You could also try needymeds.com, which aggregates info on discount programs for various companies.

  8. mag
    February 11, 2016 at 10:20

    I’m rooting for you, my friend. Thank you for sharing.

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