“An organic option for the rich”: Medical marijuana price concerns remain after pharmacy slashes prices

By Amanda Roberts | February 5, 2020 at 10:17 PM CST – Updated February 6 at 3:30 PM (Read the full article here)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -At a doctor’s recommendation, Jackie Hyer tried medical marijuana and says it was all that was promised and more, but she just couldn’t justify staying on it because it was costing her hundreds of dollars a month.

“I thought this would be my miracle and its great, but I just can’t afford it,” said Hyer.

Hearing her cry and dozens of others, Ruston Henry with H&W Drugs says that’s when they made the decision to slash the prices for medical marijuana by 25 percent.

“When you have a patient that saying because of price I will need to not take my medicine that’s a problem as a pharmacist,” said Henry.

The price change can save patients anywhere from $24 to $45 a vial depending on the doctor’s recommendation. Henry says their phones have been ringing, and more patients are starting to come back to them.

“The people we service are a desperate population so now there is hope, at H&W we say we try and give people back their lives,” said Henry.

But neurologist Chad Domangue believes it’s going to take more than a price reduction to make real change, especially because medical marijuana is a cash-only drug.

“I’ve seen people cry in my office about how it helps them sleep, depression, and pain so forth, but then after a month or two as people come into my clinic crying because they can’t afford $180 a month… even if they discounted 25% we can’t afford $300 a month it’s many people car notes right,” said Domangue.

He says any step to make medical marijuana more affordable and therefore more accessible is a good step, but says because of state laws and insurance company demands, he winds up putting a number of those patients back on opioids.

“As physicians we’re being told there’s too many opioids, there’s too many opioid,s but the alternatives such as marijuana and other noninvasive options we have, you can’t get them covered or paid for,” said Domangue.

Domangue believes until legislators allow more suppliers in the state, and insurance companies broaden their coverage a Louisiana medical marijuana recommendation will still be costly.

“Because we only have two suppliers they jack the price up to whatever they wanr. It’s set up to fail it’s one of those things we got excited because they passed legislation but they basically created an organic option for the rich,” said Domangue.

The discounted drug price reduction has only been in place at the H&W store on Tchoupitoulas for about a week.

Henry said they still need time to see how the new price fits within the community’s needs, but is hopeful.

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