Medical question without "go to the doctor" as an answer

A question for doctors and pharmacists: Is it ethically consistent for a pharmacy to fill a prescription at half-potency on an item, making it identical to an OTC medicine, without making this clear to anyone? I had a prescription for a 2% thingy, but they gave me 1%, which I knew was the OTC strength. I asked about it, and they said “we don’t have 2%”.

Considering that I paid 10$, and the little sheet claims “my insurance saved me 12$”, that’s 22$ on a 8$ item if I had just bought the regular OTC. It seems ethically shaky.


p.s. None of your business.

So, they didn’t actually fill the prescription as ordered? Seems shady to me.

That’s completely illegal, AFAIK IANAL. I’ve heard a lot of stuff about pharmacies doing this sort of thing and then selling the real stuff out the back door for more money. Ask for your money and the prescription back, and go to a different pharmacy, and like, report them or something.

Yep, I’d get a refund. Watch them squirm as you explain it to them and they try and talk you out of it, because they have to talk to the insurance company about … ahem … insurance fraud.

TOTALLY illegal.

Yep, classic fraud. Turn the fuckers in. You may even get a reward from your medical aid.

Ah this is excellent. Do NOT return it. Do not get a refund. Evidence is good.

Report to insurance company. They’ll just ask for paperwork from them. If yours is the one that pushes them over the top hopefully they’ll hesitate to do it so often.

Blackmail them for Oxycotin. Profit.

They’re probably selling your prescription meds behind the dumpster and giving you the contents of OTC packages. Classic prescription fraud!

Damnation, you folks are fired up! I guess I’ll give the ol’ insurance company a call, and see what they have to say about it. I called my doctor’s office and spoke with a nurse, she seemed to think that nothing was amiss, and that they would order the correct strength product if I asked.


Insurance company isn’t concerned about it. Minor functionary said that “the drug is in the program”, what that means, I don’t know. Perhaps the insurance company says “when they ask for x, give them y instead”? Still seems fishy to me.


Ah hell. Ok when you get drugs I assume you get an “Explanation of Benefits”? At the back of it there’s a number, in case of fraud, call or write us. Write them a short note.

Giving you X item and billing for Y item where Y item is more expensive is at the very least, a billing pecadillo. They’ll claim mistake, but doesn’t hurt to have on record. Thanks for taking the effort, integrity thanks you!

Stuff like this drives up the cost of healthcare for everybody. Well, okay, not everybody, just those of us who pay for it.

  • Alan

It really depends on the medicine in question or the dosage if it is a problem or not. If they lowered the dosage per pill (down to 1% like you said), but the instructions say to take more pills that would equal the dosage (like take 2 instead of one in this case), and gave you an increased number of pills so it all equals out, then that is ok.

If they didn’t do that, then that can be a problem. If it is ontrolled substance medicines like narcotics, this is a BIG no-no. Like federal level no-no. But I am guessing it is not a medicine along those lines since you said it has an OTC equivalent.

You know, that more or less gives it away.

You can get Cialis OTC?