Monday, September 24, 2012

I Do Solemnly Swear

In Maryland, there is a tiered formulary for Medicaid patients.  What this means is that the physician must try a first tier medication before a second tier medication.  What makes a medication a tier one medicine? The cost.  Some medicines are more expensive than others, and beside that, the state contracts with pharmaceutical companies for special rates.  So in Maryland, if you want to prescribe risperdone, it's not a problem.  If you want to prescribe some of the other atypical antipsychotic medications, you need to fill out a prior authorization form giving the diagnosis, the target symptoms, the name of the medicine, the dose, strength, frequency, and quantity.  The doc needs to check off whether it's being continued from an inpatient setting, if there is a condition or drug interaction which prevents use of a preferred (i.e., cheaper) medication, s/he must list other medications that have been tried with their strength, frequency, dates of use, "compliance (at least 6 days/wk)" and reason for discontinuation.  Oh and the demographics of all involved including the doc's NPI number, specialty, address, fax, email, phone, and the patient's name, DOB, address, Medicaid number and height and weight and gender.  Just a simple little form.

Finally, at the bottom of the form, the prescriber must sign off on the following statement, "I certify that the benefits of antipsychotic treatment for this patient outweigh the risks."  So like how does anyone know that before the patient even takes the pill?  Risk benefit is an individual issue and depends on  a balance of side effects and response to a medication.  Until the pill is swallowed (and perhaps until quite a few pills are swallowed), we don't know if the patient will have side effects, or if the patient's symptoms will even respond.  Mind you, if the patient doesn't respond to the initial dose and we to raise it, the doctor needs to fill the form out all over.  I think the state needs fortune tellers, not doctors.