He only needed 30 tablets. He received $13,000 worth of drugs

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By Christopher Elliott

If a pharmacy gives you too much medication, can you get a partial refund? That’s what one reader wants to know after he receives $13,000 worth of pills.

Question

While I was a patient at a nursing home in Grants Pass, Ore., I contracted Clostridioides difficile, a bacteria that causes diarrhea and colitis, an inflammation of the colon. C. diff. is a truly horrible intestinal infection that is potentially fatal. 

Since the treatment wasn’t curing me, I found a gastroenterologist who prescribed 30 tablets of Dificid, an expensive medication. However, I received 58 tablets from my pharmacy, Omnicare of Portland, at a total cost of $13,000 — and a cost to me of $2,116. 

I’m trying to get this fixed. I don’t need 58 tablets. Omnicare of Portland overcharged me by more than $1,000 for the medication. Can you help me get this straightened out? —  Ronald van Weemen van Noord, Crescent City, Calif.

Answer

I’m sorry to hear about your infection and hope you recover quickly. Your pharmacy should have filled the prescription your gastroenterologist wrote. It isn’t clear why the pharmacy gave you 28 additional tablets. Or why it wouldn’t immediately correct it. Talk about difficile.

But do you want to know what I can’t get over? Medication that costs $13,000. OK, so your insurance company covered most of the expense, but you still had a significant co-pay, which was even more significant after the pharmacy’s extra pills. It’s nowhere as expensive as Hemgenix ($3.5 million per treatment) or Zolgensma ($2.1 million), but I can’t be the only one who thinks $13,000 is too much to cure you.

It looks like you already followed the Elliott Method for fixing your problem. You sent a brief, polite email to Omnicare (owned by CVS), and before contacting me, you also appealed to an outside mediator (the BBB). But even after all that, you still were being overcharged by your pharmacy. The only thing left was to apply steady pressure to CVS to get it to fix the problem. I publish the names, numbers and emails of the CVS customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

I contacted CVS on your behalf. The company sent you a check to cover the extra tablets, unfortunately, without explaining the error.

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Occasionally, the healthcare industry experiences over-issuance of products, while at other times, there is a shortfall in product supply.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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