Dear Prudence: Do I have to use a mail-order Rx?


I’ve mentioned in this space before about my obsession with an advice column called Dear Prudence. While many issues are wacky (Help! My boyfriend’s parents planned a wedding for us against our will! My husband is demanding a paternity test!), many are more down to earth.

Last week, this letter appeared about a person who loves using her local mom-and-pop pharmacy. As a person with a chronic illness, she sees them regularly. She recently learned she’d save about $900 per year if she switched to mail order. She’s torn about what to do ("I’d love to give the finger to the corporate bully system"), but for her, $900 is “lifechanging.”

Other readers wrote in in response and suggested she see if there are any copay rebates available or if the pharmacy can price match. Both are decent suggestions but Prudie hits the nail on the head, not only for pharmacy, but in one sense, the larger HME industry.

"Ultimately, I wonder if cutting their profit margin to keep a customer is a downward spiral way of staying in business."

I mean, isn’t downward spiral practically the definition of competitive bidding?

There is also a comment forum for each column, that is often as entertaining as the column itself. I can’t access it any longer, but quite a few commenters, as I recall, mentioned how much they hate using large mail-orders, due to overshipments, poor service and meds getting ruined after being left on a porch, say. Of course, I am preaching to the choir here, but I always find it interesting when an issue that pertains to our weird little niche appears in an unexpected place.

Theresa Flaherty