My Personal Cancer Journey — A Tale of Woe

Currently, I receive my prescriptions, particularly my “magic pill,” Tarceva, by mail order. When I began, I enrolled in their “auto-refill” program. The program promises to automatically refill prescriptions, and when the prescription expires, to call the doctor to obtain a new prescription. Everything was working fine until now.

In the middle of October (10-17) I noticed that there were only a few Tarceva pills left (and I had not received an email that a prescription was being shipped). I called my mail-order pharmacy and they told me that the doctor had not been called. So I initiated the process by instructing them to call my doctor in order to obtain a new prescription by fax.

I also called my doctor and told his secretary that I would need a 30-day supply or so to tide me over since the mail-order process often takes up to 2 weeks. I took the 30-day prescription to my local pharmacy and was given rather disturbing news. They can no longer dispense or even order tarceva. It is on a list of drugs which must be filled by a specialty pharmacy.

Next, I called my doctor’s office again to inform them of this development. They indicated that they would contact a specialty pharmacy and get back to me (this was Tuesday). I received no phone call on Tuesday and took my last tarceva pill on Wednesday morning. Then I called my doctor’s office again, but his secretary was out for the day. I asked that someone follow through and let me know what to do. No one called.

It was at this point that I began to panic. I received an email from my mail-order pharmacy that my prescription was “in process” and should be shipped on Thursday (but to allow 7-10 days).

Thus, on Thursday morning I called the mail-order pharmacy and explained my problem, asking them to expedite my shipment. I told them that I would pay whatever was necessary to receive my prescription as soon as possible. I was told that they would try, but that they might not be able to intercept the shipment and change it.

In the meantime, I contacted the doctor’s office again to get another update. I also asked them to find out what the consequences would be if I did not take the medication for several days. The person I spoke to said that I should not skip the medication — uh oh, I did not take a Tarceva on Thursday! The receptionist also gave me the number of the specialty pharmacy that they were working on, and also explained that the three (3) specialty pharmacies they had contacted on Tuesday would not accept my medical coverage (I thought this was awfully strange since I’ve been taking Tarceva for 10 months).

Anyway, I called the specialty pharmacy and, after much explanation and a final discussion with a supervisor, I discovered that they were unable to honor the prescription because it was already being filled (by my mail-order pharmacy).

Thus, as we speak, I am hoping that my mail-order prescription will arrive in a day or so. Today was my second day without my all-important anti-cancer pill. Wish me luck. To be continued…...

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