How can I obtain depression meds on the cheap?
September 17, 2007 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I need to get back on meds for my depression; however, I am uninsured at the moment and can't afford them. What options if any are available for obtaining discounted prescription medication?

I have been on and off prescription meds for the treatment of depression in the last several years. Most recently, I was taking a moderate dosage of generic Zoloft as prescribed by my former GP. It was working well. At the end of the last year, I lost my job and the insurance it was providing and had to stop taking the meds and stop going to therapy.

Since then, things have gotten progressively worse and I feel that I need to be back on medication (at least). The trouble is that I don't think I can even afford generic Zoloft at the moment. I'm in a heap of debt and trying desperately to catch up.

I live in Seattle, WA. Can anyone recommend any resources for someone such as myself? How can I obtain a prescription without paying to see a doctor? Are there community resources for sad, broke guys like me? I really need help.
posted by GS1977 to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Could you call your old doc and ask for a new Rx?

Generic prozac ought to be fairly cheap. This place may be helpful, too.
posted by docpops at 11:56 AM on September 17, 2007

If you can scrape together enough to see a doctor once, they may give you a bunch of free "promotional" samples. If your doctor is sympathetic and generous enough, this way may be cheaper than getting a prescription. I know my doctor offered once to supply me with Celexa sample packs for as long as I wanted/needed them. This was in Canada, but I'm sure American doctors have the same samples to give out.
posted by pocams at 12:05 PM on September 17, 2007

I was just going to suggest what pocam said. I've found many docs are quite sympathetic to this situation -- back in Chicago in the mid-'90s, one doc in particular practically kept me alive on free promo samples of my necessary meds till I finally got health insurance.
posted by scody at 12:07 PM on September 17, 2007

Some drug companies offer "patient assistance programs" for people with low incomes and no insurance. Here's a link to Pfizer's.

But because there is now a generic version of Zoloft available, my guess is that the drug company won't help you. Try buying the generic (as noted above, it isn't that much) or explain your situation to your doctor-- he or she may be able to offer you some of their free samples.
posted by chickletworks at 12:09 PM on September 17, 2007

Further to chickletworks's comment:

I'm in Canada, and I work for a doctor. We get Zoloft from Pfizer for one patient regularly. I believe this required her to try the generic one, but it didn't work for or had severe side effects for her. So it may still be possible, if the generic doesn't work for you.
posted by sarahkeebs at 12:14 PM on September 17, 2007

Related to chickletworks' suggestion, there is an organization called the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) that helps people who can't afford their meds. They also have a toll-free number to call for more information: 1-888-477-2669.
posted by amyms at 12:16 PM on September 17, 2007

Following up on Chickletworks' answer in more detail, Pfizer has several different prescription drug assistance plans.

One allows you to have a higher income level and provides significant discounts on any of 88 specific prescription drugs, and Zoloft is one of them.

Their other programs are much more difficult to qualify for in terms of showing need, but if you do qualify, their Connection to Care program provides any of 77 drugs free through a doctors office, and Zoloft is one of them.

These programs came to my attention recently because I noticed they provide deep discounts on their brand new, state of the art, quit-smoking medicine Chantix. I was really wowed by that, actually.
posted by bunnycup at 12:20 PM on September 17, 2007

More information: I see that Target's $4 prescription program does not seem to cover the generic Zoloft, which is Sertraline, but does offer other generic Paxil, which is Paroxetine. Perhaps your healthcare provider might consider a substituion?
posted by bunnycup at 12:22 PM on September 17, 2007

Additional information: Here is a link that links to a popup comparing Walmart's $4 prescription program, with a variety of antidepressants (not including Zoloft, but again with other SSRI alternatives).

I apologize for not having it together enough to post this all in one cogent answer - I just keep thinking of more and more options for you!
posted by bunnycup at 12:25 PM on September 17, 2007

One more thing: you expressed the need to see a doctor for free to get the prescription in the first place. Try contacting the Washington State Mental Health Division and asking for a clinic referral.
posted by bunnycup at 12:30 PM on September 17, 2007

If patient assistance programs are a no-go or turns out to be a pain in the ass, Kmart's 90-day supply of generics for $15 program includes sertraline (Zoloft) at 100 mg.
If there is no Kmart with a pharmacy in your area, Target and Walmart both have $4/month generic programs, and include several generic SSRIs on their lists (generic Prozac, Paxil, and Celexa.)

Additionally, Costco pharmacy has excellent prices on generic Zoloft (under $13 for a 90-day supply.) You do not need to be a Costco member to order from their mail-order pharmacy or to use their in-store pharmacy. Go to the membership desk, tell them you are there to use the pharmacy, and they'll give you a special pass.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:33 PM on September 17, 2007

You're going to spend less in time and effort using one of the bigbox generic programs. The Patient Assistance programs can be quite a pain to get hooked into.

I'm certain you can afford the $4 if you choose to make it a priority.
posted by OmieWise at 12:52 PM on September 17, 2007

The patient assistance programs are mostly bullshit - they are largely financed by Big Pharma as a way of avoiding real drug cost reform. The byzantine requirements to get on them are such that no practice can afford the time necessary for more than a few patients at a time in many cases. I would be surprised if free clinics offered it, due to the overhead costs.

Likewise, getting samples may work, but supply is often spotty, and it's a two-edged sword - older generics are cheap but not sampled, and fancy but expensive branded drugs are, but frequently get used up so you may not have access on a continuous basis.

I think you are far better off budgeting for a cheap generic via WalMart or Costco, then spending the time/money for a single consult to get the Rx. From there you ought to be able to get the drug indefinitely.
posted by docpops at 1:31 PM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all very much for the advice. I think going to a big box and getting sertraline. I can certainly afford $4/mo.

Do you think my former GP (the one who last prescribed me the meds) would just write another Rx without a visit? I guess it can't hurt to call them.

Thanks again.
posted by GS1977 at 1:43 PM on September 17, 2007

Also Washington has a medication discount card. I used it during an uninsured period and it was *very* useful. Be sure to call ahead to make sure the pharmacy you use takes the card. Most do. The card is incredibly easy to get. Just request one and it shows up a week or two later.

Costco has been my source for massively cheap generic drugs, and you don't need to be a member to use their pharmacy.

If nothing else works out for you, consider going to the 45th street clinic. If you fit their income requirements, their pharmacy will fill a bottle of medication for $7, and the doctor their can write out a script for more than one month at a time.
posted by tejolote at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2007

Oh crap. There, not their. I HATE it when I don't stop to proofread.
posted by tejolote at 1:57 PM on September 17, 2007

Do you think my former GP (the one who last prescribed me the meds) would just write another Rx without a visit? I guess it can't hurt to call them.

They might if you called and explained your situation - especially if you are charming to the medical assistant who ultimately holds sway over a lot of the decisions.
posted by docpops at 2:00 PM on September 17, 2007

If you have a good relationship with your prescribing doctor, call their office, explain that you lost your insurance, and ask if they have any samples. I've gotten a few months of samples this way before.

Also, at one point I got three months of medication free from Seattle Mental Health. Be aware however that they're overworked and underfunded, so it can be hellaciously difficult to get in to see them.

If you have ties to the LGBT community and decide at some point that you can afford and want therapy, Seattle Counseling offers the cheapest sliding scale therapy that I've found in Seattle--they also have prescribing doctors on staff.

Here's a link to information about the 45th street clinic and pharmacy. That same site shows links to other neighborhood clinics that might be closer, but I've had better luck at 45th than others in the area.

Good luck, from someone who has been there.
posted by tejolote at 2:06 PM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, thanks for reminding me about the discount card. I read something about that but I guess I'd forgotten.
posted by GS1977 at 2:18 PM on September 17, 2007

« Older Help me make sure I don't freeze the old orange...   |   Baby climbed over my only idea Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.