DOCS SPEAK OUT

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SEASONAL ALLERGIES

Every spring, our offices provide treatment and relief for patients with seasonal allergies.  The upshot? “Patients realize that we do more than sell glasses and contact lenses,” said one optometrist in this issue’s Docs Speak Out survey. Another OD uses the allergy visit as a way to educate patients regarding “single-use contact lenses for seasonal wear, spectacle updates for seasonal wear and dry eye disease and how it can impact seasonal allergies and contact lens wear.” While some ODs said the season “brings in more patients” and an “enhanced bottom line,” others said their practice hasn’t changed much. But, an overwhelming 80% of optometrists in our survey were in agreement that they felt they did not receive sufficient drug samples from major pharmaceutical companies to initiate a treatment plan. That causes a problem when a patient can’t afford the medication. See below for what respondents suggested to bring relief to those patients.

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WHAT TO DO WHEN A PATIENT CAN’T AFFORD ALLERGY MEDICATIONS:
“Pharmaceutical companies supply discount cards for patients. If not available, attempt to get similar results from generic or OTC products.”

“I prescribe a different, less-expensive drop or suggest an over-the-counter drop.”

“Occasionally a patient is willing to buy a drug out of pocket if they are uncomfortable. In general, however, we must start with an OTC first or it will cost the patient a significant amount of money.”

“There are older but adequate less expensive alternatives, which usually work but take longer.”

“I first will make sure that the condition is properly managed with the prescribed medication using samples. Once improvement is proven, my staff will contact the pharmaceutical company itself, and generally the patient is provided the medication at a significantly reduced fee.”

“Go to OTC drops! Zaditor or Alaway.”

“Not an issue. Generics are now very affordable.”

“Try a combination of OTC antihistamines, cold compresses and artificial tears.”

“Suggest a nutritional or homeopathic drop that addresses allergy reaction.”

“Check GoodRx.com for coupons, change the medication prescribed if unsuccessful at overcoming the Prior Authorization requirement.”

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