Yesterday, when I arrived at the pharmacy to pick up the 12-month supply of medications prescribed by Doc Theo, the pharmacy was busy and hadn’t put the entire order together. However, about half of it was ready to go. After waiting in the queue for about 15 minutes, I told them I’d go to Spar and come back in another 15 minutes if they thought they’d be ready. They assured me they’d be ready.
I had dropped off the prescriptions last Friday, but they didn’t have enough of some of the meds to complete my order and assured me they’d have everything by Tuesday. They did, and I was grateful for their efforts in getting it ready as much as they did. It’s a very busy place.
By the time I returned 20 minutes later, the order was ready to go in several large plastic bags I had to take to the check-out counter to have the staff member check off every single item, one by one, to ensure nothing was missing. I waited another 20 minutes until she was done, but I could tell she was working diligently to complete it as accurately and quickly as possible. I didn’t complain.
When I checked out, I cringed a little over the total of ZAR 12599.21, US $700.11, which also included a few toiletry items totaling about ZAR 225, $12.30. Let’s ignore those items for illustrative purposes today and go with the total for this post.
When we returned to the house, I looked online to see the pricing in the US for only one of the medications to use as an example. I visited Drugs.com at this link and was shocked by what I discovered. Only one of the multiple drugs shown in the bulk photo below included today is Premarin 0.3, a hormone I’ve been taking for years. I take one tablet each day. Here’s was I found:
“The cost for Premarin oral tablet 0.3 mg is around $715 for a supply of 100 tablets, depending on the pharmacy you visit. Quoted prices are for cash-paying customers and are not valid with insurance plans. This price guide is based on using the Drugs.com discount card, which is accepted at most U.S. pharmacies.”
Ironically, the 100-tablet cost for this medication is comparable to the entire bill I paid yesterday for multiple prescriptions for one year, not only 100 tablets of one drug. If I did the math for 365 tablets a year with the cost of 100 tablets, the total cost for the one drug would be as follows:
3.65 X US $715 = $2609.75 (ZAR 4753.66)
I could buy all the drugs for the 100-day supply and subsequent cost in the US for one drug. Wow.
No, I am not factoring in what a co-pay might be with insurance in the US. But since we have no health insurance in the US other than basic Medicare, which doesn’t include drugs, these figures are relevant to us. At that point, I didn’t start looking up prices for the other medications since my curiosity was satisfied by this one example in the lot. Surely, if I wanted to take the time and effort to research pricing for each drug, I’d find a similar scenario.
Now, it confirms the logic for us to purchase my meds in South Africa whenever we visit and perhaps even warrant future trips in years to come, let alone the enjoyment we glean from spending time in the bush with friends and wildlife.
The task now is to minimize the packaging as much as possible since, due to humidity in South Africa, most meds are individually plastic wrapped. It can take forever for me to pop out each tablet and put them in a container which I am doing with a few of them, which is why three large empty containers are shown on the right side of the photo.
Of course, I am bringing along the prescription Doc Theo wrote with all of these meds if questions are asked as we enter any country along the way. Also, I am including the more detailed receipts from the pharmacy to substantiate the excessive amount of tablets further. Hopefully, we won’t encounter any issues along the way, especially since the majority of these items will be in my carry-on baggage.
We’ve never had problems bringing large amounts of medication into a country, but one never knows, as we learned from losing our bags most recently when it hadn’t happened in the first eight years of our world travels. One can never take anything for granted.
Today, I am busy organizing the meds and also baking two cakes for tomorrow’s farewell party, one keto chocolate cake, and one regular cake, Tom’s mother’s delicious oatmeal cake with broiled coconut and almond frosting, which is exceptional. It’s baking in the oven now. When it’s done, I will make the chocolate cake but might leave the frosting to make tomorrow.
That’s it for today, dear readers. Thanks for joining us in our less adventurous posts as we wind down the time until we leave South Africa in 11 days.
Photo from ten years ago today, April 19, 2013: