Protect yourself from pharmacy ageism & greed

Pills_shutterstock_1032081463Have you turned 70 yet? If so, did you change from a smart, capable human being  into a blithering incompetent that very day?

Me neither.

Yet my pharmacy decided that’s exactly what happened to me. They started sending me robo-telephone calls telling me a prescription of mine was past due to be refilled. Just because I was now 70. Calls they didn’t make when I was 69. 

There’s big marketing behind these calls. Pharmacists and drug companies believe they are losing a fortune because people don’t take all the pills they are prescribed. Their eyes practically fill with tears thinking about all the extra money they could be making. (And don’t think I’m over-reacting here. I used to be publisher of a nursing magazine and getting nurses to push drug “compliance” was one of drug companies’ top marketing goals.)

3 reasons why we aren’t taking our pills

  1. Because some of us can’t afford them. The pharmaceuticals brought this upon themselves by charging Americans 3-50 times what they charge for the same pills in other countries. If they cut back even half the lobbying money Big Pharma uses to buy congressmen to support this price gouging, people who can’t afford their medicine could afford it. Big Pharma’s money also buys laws preventing us from buying our drugs from Canadian pharmacies at half the cost.
  2. Because some of us choose to take fewer (or none) of what we’ve been prescribed. That’s right, we’re doing it ON PURPOSE! Often for very good reasons:
    1. For example, acid reflux medicines make us 3 times as likely to get pneumonia and 40% more likely to get dementia. So, personally, instead of taking Zantac twice a day as prescribed, I’ll use it once in a blue moon if really needed, and use diet and Tums (when needed) for every day.
    2. My 87-pound, 84-year-old mother would take all her pills, but cut them in half. Otherwise, at her weight and age, they were way too strong. If you’ve medicated a dog, you know a 7-pound Yorkie doesn’t get the same dosage as a Rotweiller. In fact, they get half the dosage of a 15-pound dog. And if you read the literature, as we age, we need a reduced dosage of most medications. Yet doctors still prescribed the same dosage to my old, tiny mother as to a young person twice her weight.
  3. Because some of us have mild to serious dementia and can’t remember. Even here, robo-calls aren’t the answer. Pharmacies who really care about patients are now offering services to package all a person’s medications into daily packets each labeled as to when (Breakfast? Lunch? Before bed?) they should be taken. After all, if someone truly can’t remember to refill a prescription, how likely are they to remember to take the pills when they should? Pharmacies show their true colors by caring as much about the taking of the pills as they do the buying of them.

When I complained to my pharmacy, “You’re treating me like I’m suddenly incompetent,” they said “Some of our customers can barely remember their names. They need this reminder service.”

Apparently the pharmacy needed someone to inform them that people don’t lose their minds the day they turn 70. (BTW, they finally did get the message: I don’t get the calls anymore! But I suspect others still do.)

Has this happened to you?

Author bio
Jen008_smallMarlene Jensen is a 71-year-old full-time marketing professor. Previously she was a VP at CBS and ABC and spent decades as an entrepreneur and pricing author/consultant. Sadly, none of these prepared her for the onslaught of marketers who now think her daily interests/needs consist solely of hearing aids, wheel chairs, adult diapers, medi-alert buttons, medications, and bath tubs you walk into.

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