Vivitrol's Worst Side Effect for Docs

In this age of eprescribing, for most medications the physician just orders the drug online, and patient, pharmacist and payer take care of the rest. Not so for Vivitrol (depot naltrexone), whose manufacturer Alkermes, holding the patient's care hostage, conscripts the physician to provide on the company "form" information about the patient and their insurance that goes far beyond that required on a routine prescription. (You will quickly recognize that the term "form" has become a euphemism for an attestation or agreement that the patient must also sign.)

Be warned, too, doctor, that after you submit the "form" a cadre of ancillary personnel, like "Touchpoints Support Services Analyst" (whatever that is) Courtney Davis and even a local drug rep like Karen Knowles will spring into action, creating new and interesting ways to waste your time ("use that time to meet with me face to face"). Alkermes even thoughtfully provides a template for the physician to write a letter to get the company money.

Earth to Alkermes: I am just the physician. If I order your product, I expect you to work with the patient to obtain payment. To that end I will provide the patient's name, address and telephone number, just like for any other prescription. If you want the patient to sign an agreement, go for it. I am not your agent. If you insist on diverting even more of my precious time away from patient care into gratuitous busywork, know that I will bill the patient, while informing the patient that this administrative nightmare serves no medical purpose whatsoever.

Some free advice for Alkermes:

  • Designate a pharmacy for dispensing and implementing injection service.
  • Connect that pharmacy with eprescribing, probably through SureScripts.
  • Contact with the patient directly to coordinate payment for your product and to arrange for injection by an appropriate service.

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