Eye Drops at $86,280.07 + Per Gallon

I mailed the letter below to President Obama in 2009. At the time I felt compelled to contribute to policy discussions on reforming health care and addressing the high cost of prescription medication by sharing my firsthand experience. In 2009 I was blessed to attend Obama’s Commander in Chief Inaugural Ball while living in a lovely neighborhood about a couple of blocks from the Vice President’s home at Observatory Circle:

Mr. President,

I am not making this up.

My eye doctor was kind enough to call in a prescription to the pharmacy for me. The Vigamox (1 drop 4 x a day for 5 days) was to get rid of an infection that was causing redness and some yellow discharge in one eye.

I have health insurance.

The itsy bitsy 3 ml plastic bottle (.1014 oz.) of antibiotic eye drop cost $68.35 at my neighborhood CVS store in NW Washington, DC.

At that price, a gallon of the drops would cost $86,280.07.

Gasoline costs under $3 a gallon.

Fortunately I was able to save on the cost of gas to get to the pharmacy because I walked.

The follow up to this story is there were no generics available at the time, and it only took 3 drops to clear the infection. In Dec. 2013 I checked with my local pharmacy in Long Beach, Calif. and a vial of the same size of Vigamox now costs $122.00 or $154,003.94 a gallon. There still are no generics available and gasoline now costs on average about $3.60 a gallon in my southern Calif. neighborhood.