As news of the coronavirus spreads, it shocked me to learn that sixty percent of our finished medication, eighty percent of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture medication and almost one hundred percent of our antibiotics are manufactured in China. One only has to look at the news to see where we will be headed if the quarantine in China and the resulting factory closures and furloughs continue for even a few more months. Consider this quote from scmp.com:
“The United States’ ability to respond to an epidemic within its borders is critically hampered by its reliance on China for pharmaceutical products and insufficient funding for preparedness, former health officials warned on Wednesday.
The assessment came amid the growing spread of the deadly coronavirus that emerged in China’s Hubei province, and just days after US President Donald Trump’s administration proposed significant cuts to the health agencies charged with leading the response to the contagion.
US drug companies rely heavily on China as a supplier of raw materials that go into the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“In many cases China is the sole source of that material,” Gottlieb, who led the FDA for two years under Trump, said during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
At a time when China would be focusing its production on domestic demand rather than international export, and amid wide scale disruption to industry across the country caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Gottlieb said the contagion had exposed “a critical choke point in the supply chain for pharmaceuticals”.
Most of the pharmaceutical chemicals are produced in China’s Zhejiang province, more than 600km away from the outbreak’s epicentre in Wuhan, there had been some initial confidence that the unfolding crisis would not affect supply. But when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency on January 31, it led to protocols over travel and supplies being tightened globally, and the movement of materials and people becoming more restricted.
With this in mind I went to see my doctor as I take several medications daily to maintain my health. I explained to the doctor my concerns and asked for a ninety day prescription to have a backup supply should the worst occur. My doctor who believes in a prepared lifestyle stated he would not be able to write these prescriptions as he feared he might jeopardize his license and further stated that things would be fine so I shouldn’t worry.
This response led me on an internet journey to see what I might be able to do to overcome my local doctor’s hesitation.
I Found a Good Source
After a few hours of searching, I discovered HoneyBee Pharmacy. This Pharmacy is properly licensed and located in Culver City California. A short web search revealed numerous five star reviews and an excellent trust pilot score. A few more searches showed their licensing status to be good. This pharmacy is online based and has no brick and mortar store. Their business model is to cut out the middleman and sell directly to consumers. They do not accept insurance and will not sell any medication with the potential to be abused (ADHD, muscle relaxers, narcotics etc.) Once you navigate to their web site you create an account and input your current medications, there are options on some medications for up to a six month supply. The prices are transparent and clearly listed. Shipping is free for 7-10 business days or ten dollars for second day air. The prices are simply amazing.
A six month supply of my current medications with no insurance, was less money than my co-pays for a one month supply at my local pharmacy. As with all things your mileage may vary. You must have a prescription on file with them and this can be accomplished a number of ways. Your current doctor can fax or send it electronically or they will contact your current pharmacy to transfer it over. However none of these ways met my goals to stockpile medication. If I had my doctor or pharmacy transfer my current prescriptions to HoneyBee. I would still be limited to that amount only. It is not my goal to save money (Although saving money is always nice), but to have a supply of stockpiled prescriptions put back for use when and if they become unavailable in my local area due to any calamity that might befall us.
So it became necessary to find a doctor who would be able to prescribe my current medications for at least a six month supply. After some time browsing the internet, I stumbled upon the web site DrSays.com. This website charges a flat fee of thirty five dollars for an initial consultation, this consultation can be by phone or video chat. The process is simple, easy and fast. You sign up for an online account, state the purpose of the consultation and a short time later a doctor calls or video chats with you. These doctors are licensed in the state you reside and have all the script writing privileges of any other doctor in your state. Once on the phone I explained to the doctor that I wanted an extended supply of my current medications and asked that a prescription be made out and sent over to HoneyBee pharmacy. The doctor spent a few minutes reviewing my medical history and list of current medications. The doctor then made out a prescription for a six month supply (the longest allowed in my state) and sent it over to HoneyBee pharmacy.
HoneyBee then verified this prescription and in two days I had a six month supply of medication to put back for when I might not be able to get them filled at my local pharmacy.
Doctor Shopping Laws
Some might object to this method thinking it nefarious or even fraudulent. I researched this issue and found that doctor shopping is a wobbler offense in my state (prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances). The doctor shopping law in my state reads as follows:
“It is illegal to use fraud, deceit or concealment of a material fact to obtain a controlled substance”
The elements of the crime is that:
A person obtained or tried to obtain, or received the administration of, or prescription of, or tried to receive the administration of, or prescription of a controlled substance and this act involved fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, subterfuge or the concealment of of a material fact.
The examples given in the text are as follows:
X visits the emergency room seeking pain medication. He falsely claims he is suffering from back pain due to a made up back injury. The doctor doesn’t believe him and sends him home. Even though he did not receive any medication, he is still in violation of the statute as he attempted to obtain medication through deceit
X visits a doctor and is prescribed a narcotic due to a car accident. He then visits a second doctor using a false name and is given a second prescription for that narcotic. He has violated the statute whether or not he actually receives any medication at all as he both used fraud and deceit to obtain the prescription
X visits a doctor and is prescribed anxiety medication. X visits a second doctor and is given a second prescription for the medication. X plans to sell this medication to recreational users. This is a violation of this statute as X has concealed the fact he plans to sell the medication and not use it himself.
When speaking with the doctor during the phone consultation. I concealed no facts, was not deceitful in any manner and provided my true and correct information. I even uploaded photographs of the medication bottles I currently have. I was up-front with the doctor and explained I wished to receive a prescription for an extended amount of time to have an extra supply on hand. I even explained that my current doctor was unwilling or unable to write a prescription for the six month time frame I requested. This doctor was both receptive and understanding to my desire to have a backup plan in place should my local supplier be unable to to fill these prescriptions in the future.
There is also no fraudulent behavior when it comes to payment. HoneyBee Pharmacy does not accept any form of insurance and only sells directly to the customer at a highly discounted rate. Two willing parties, exchanging money for good or services, in a straight transaction in which both parties completely understand all aspects of the transaction, can not under any circumstances ever constitute fraud or even a morally questionable situation. That being said I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice. The laws and examples written above apply only to my state and as always your mileage may vary.
Not having a stockpile of medication on hand has been a source of concern for me for quite some time. I hope this article can help others put up a supply of medication for a rainy day in both a legal and ethical manner.