Vancomycin is a treatment for C. Difficile colitis, but can it be obtained for less than $1000?
I had a patient, recently, who is uninsured who was treated for C. difficile colitis. I was saddened to hear that she was given a prescripiton for oral vancomycin capsules. If there is one way to sour a self-pay patient on modern medicine it is to prescribe off patent medications in an expensive formulation. I have to say I learned this trick a long time ago from a coleague. I regret I don’t recall who told me, but it saves thousands of dollars.
Do I exagerate? No! Vancomycin capsules for a 10 day course of 250 mg four times a day cost upwards of $1000? So, how do you save money? Get a pharmacist to dispense the solution used for IV administration.
IV vancomycin has been available for years for about $15 for a 10 gram dose. That is just the amount needed for an oral course of therapy. Just have the pharmacist mix up the following:
Vancomycin HCl 10 g inj., 1 vial Saccharin Sodium, 0.4 g Stevia, 0.4 g Glycerin, 80 ml Raspberry concentrate, 0.2 ml Distilled water, qs 200 ml Sig: Take 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) by mouth 4 times daily for 14 days. (2 ounces (60 ml) will be left over if nothing spilled)
This has a stability of 14 days if refrigerated. She has Crohn’s disease and has recurrent C. diff which I found upon scoping her, today. This script will cost about $50-$80, saving her about $900 to $1000. She thinks I’m great for having found this cheaper alternative. Next step may be a stool transplant (which might cure her Crohn’s!).
I originally found this recipe for compounding Vancomycin at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists web site. The link went dead so I subbed in the content from the Internet Archive. The internet is a wonderful place, and Google serves us well. The recent script I wrote left out the Stevia, and just ordered “flavor, prn”, leaving that to the judgement of the pharmacist. Don’t fear writing a compounding prescription. Pharmacists are our friends, and they like the chance to provide this service to our patients.
- Links fixed, made prescription easier to copy and paste – 10/20/22