Please ask your pharmacist if manufacturer coupons are right for you. Because they're a real pain in the ass and we're going to tell you NO.
FreshKote is an eye lubricant that is now available OTC. So Focus Laboratories says, hey, let's issue a coupon so that people can get the medication half off! But instead of a bar code to scan at the register, we'll just put in billing information with a BIN, group, and ID number so that the pharmacist has no way of getting reimbursed unless they have a prescription!
That's what happened with Mr. Dryeye a few days before the end of 2013. He raced in with this Manufacturer Coupon which allows him to save a whopping 50% off a bottle of the product and tells me, "One bottle, please."
I looked at the coupon. It has billing information like usual for a prescription, so I ask him for the prescription. He says his doctor refused to write one because it is over the counter now. (Why would a doctor refuse that? Maybe what Mr. Dryeye isn't telling me is that HE refuses to go back and see the doctor... you know, with those pesky office co-pays and all).
So then I look at the fine print so I can show Mr. Dryeye that he needs a prescription. And what does it say:
To Pharmacist: Submit a PRIMARY claim to PDM using BIN: 610020. This card is valid for prescription and over the counter use.
Nice, Focus Labs... tell the patient they can use this for the product when we can't use it.
Mr. Dryeye is now panicking because it's almost the end of the year and unless he gets his 50% off he's going to have to pay $17 more for a bottle of eye lube. Cry Havoc! Let slip the Dogs of War! Mr. Dryeye immediately dials up the 800 number on the coupon and starts in on whoever answered the phone, right there, at the register, in the middle of the store. He's not yelling but he's pretty loud and I know within moments he's going to try and hand me his cell phone.
Whoever he's talking to doesn't understand why there is a problem. Maybe at other pharmacies you can just enter BIN, group, and ID information at the register and get 50% off, but not at Goofmart or any pharmacy that I know of in the tri-state area.
He says, "I have the pharmacist right here... Sleazy. You want to talk to him? Ok?"
I HATE WHEN PEOPLE DO THAT!
He hands me the phone and I immediately change it to speaker phone mode. HIPAA be damned! I tell the lady that I have no way to bill it because I don't have a prescription and I can't run it as a prescription without a prescription and if pigs could fly we'd have flying bacon sandwiches.
I hand the bacteria-laden phone back to Mr. Dryeye. I've become Howard Hughes but at least I don't spend the Christmas holidays whining about having a cold like some bloggers. Mr. Dryeye walks off still talking to the lady and the tech and I go back to work to try and make up for the lost time for this little misadventure.
Ten minutes later, Mr. Dryeye walks by the pharmacy and I hear him say, "Let me talk to your supervisor!" in a loud tone.
Twenty minutes later Mr. Dryeye walks by the pharmacy in the other direction. I can hear he's STILL talking to Focus Labs about this manufacturer coupon crap.
Thirty minutes later he's back at the register. "Well," he says, "They're going to extend the expiration date until the end of March and I'm going to have to get a prescription. Please order it for me."
I nod yes and click the order button on the computer.
I tell you, if $17 ever, ever becomes that important to me, please euthanize me. Please.