I was surprised to see the following ill-informed move
by PacifiCare that has the potential to seriously harm thousands. Every
expert (and many patients) I've talked to has said the new medications
are a quantum leap better than the older meds. Any suggestions on how we
can fight these moves? - Brian.
PacifiCare (California) pays only for Older Medications
- CYPRESS, Calif. Jan. 23 -- PacifiCare of California has said that it
will no longer pay for many of its members to receive new anti-psychotic
drugs, including Prozac and the new schizophrenia drug Risperdal.
- The Orange County Register newspaper says today (Thursday) that psychiatrists,
advocates for the mentally ill and consumer groups accuse the HMO of putting
cost-cutting measures ahead of patient health care. PacifiCare says it
will no longer cover dozens of mental illness prescription drugs for some
300,000 members moved by their employers into a cheaper prescription plan
earlier this year. Some patients will be compelled to take medication developed
decades ago that doctors say has severe side effects and is less effective
than newer drugs.
Company officials say that although the decision to cut the anti- depressant
medication Prozac was aimed at cutting costs, the decision to remove Risperdal
from the list was not financial. A PacifiCare spokesman says the company
decided against paying for Risperdal prescriptions because too little is
known about its safety. The Register newspaper says a month's supply of
Risperdal, introduced in 1994, costs about $240, compared to $2.50 for
the same amount of Haldol, a 38-year-old substitute with side effects such
as uncontrollable shaking, restlessness and stiffness.
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