Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I've posted before about my concerns with the Medical-Industrial Complex (search for "medical" using the search window at the top left). Sadly, I have to report another victim of the M-IC; the pharmacies at New Seasons Market.

New Seasons Market is a Portland, Oregon company that presently has 10 markets in the Portland area. This is no ordinary supermarket chain; New Seasons Market is a community-based company that has taken community, sustainability, and supporting local agriculture beyond any other market company I'm familiar with. We received a letter the other day from New Seasons Market announcing the closure of the three in-store pharmacies they have operated for the past four years. The reason - New Seasons Market cannot compete with the big discount chains that offer hundreds of generic drugs for $3 or $4 per monthly supply. New Seasons is not a large enough buyer to match these prices. This is a shame, and a loss for the New Seasons Market communities.

I recently brought my Lipitor prescription to the New Seasons Market pharmacy after using the health insurance company prescription service for some time. The reason for my switch is not important, but I felt strongly that I would rather support a local company than a huge mail order prescription mill. I knew that the insurance company rules, established to favor their preferred prescription service, would result in my paying more at New Seasons Market. Using the insurance -sponsored Express-Scrips service, I could get a 3-month supply of my drug for $40. The insurance company rules do not allow another pharmacy to sell me more than a 30-day supply, for a $20 co-pay. Why is this legal?

Interestingly, within a week of having my prescription filled at New Seasons Market, I received a letter from Express-Scrips telling me that I could save $80 per year by switching my prescription to them instead of New Seasons (that's right, they know what pharmacy I used). This brazen marketing ploy made me decide to spend the $80 a year more as my principled stand against the Medical-Industrial Complex (boy, that's really going to hurt them!!).

Well, the big boys won after all - they've put my local pharmacy put of business, and I'll go back to Express-Scrips with my virtual tail between my legs. But I think I'll look for a charity to which I can donate that saved $80 a year to help people who can't afford their medications.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a society that supported local businesses?

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