Buffalo, NY — The case of a Texas school teacher who died from the flu, after deciding that $116 was too expensive for a supply of Tamiflu which treats flu's severe effects, has prompted cost concerns.
As NBC Nightly News reported last night, there was an initial price spike two years in Tamiflu costs actually more than double from ten years before. And now in 2018 there are price quotes of $120 dollars or so for the medicine with the surge in cases.
Some pharmaceutical experts say coupons and other discounts also available online may lower that price. They also suggest people specifically ask for the generic form of Tamiflu called oseltamivir.
This issue frustrates the executive director of the Pharmacist Association of Western New York. Dennis Galluzzo says, "I don't understand why people are having trouble getting the medication. The medication is out there, the price isn't that bad and we have it available."
Galluzzo, who is co-operator of the independent Family Medical Pharmacy in Williamsville, says part of the price problem may be linked to distribution at the larger chain based pharmacies. He suggests shopping around including the independent pharmacy option. "We are more apt to be able to compete with any price that is out there in the marketplace. And quite frankly the prices that are at some of the big box stores...they go off an average warehouse price which is much higher than the actual cost of the medication."
Obviously an individual or family's health insurance and prescription drug management plan is a key factor with many tied to the larger pharmacy chains with varying costs for Tamiflu. Galluzzo says local healthcare insurance firms do a good job in keeping prescription costs down.here in Western New York. And in the case of potentially life saving Tamiflu, upfront cash is an option as well.
Galluzzo says "We can beat any price that's out there on the marketplace. Quite frankly I could probably sell it to a person here for 80 dollars a package if they needed it."
Galluzzo says some local independent pharmacies actually lose money on sales of some medications in effort to help their ailing regular customers and again there is ample supply available in this area.
2 On Your Side reached out to some of the larger pharmacy store chains. A spokeswoman for Walgreens did respond but could only say that prices are generally determined with the health insurance and prescription drug management plans for customers. She did not have any information on an actual cash price for Tamiflu.