Mailorder Pharmacy - Missing Some Cogs in the Wheel

You won't be surprised when I tell you that it's been hot in Minnesota.
I got home at 9 pm on the 18th, after being gone all day. Here's what was sitting in my non-airconditioned foyer:

Even though I stopped working 2 years ago due to major illness, I still get benefits from my former employer. This past year, on June 1, they switched from one mail-order pharmacy to another. Both had the policy that I had to have my insulin shipped from the distribution center. If I chose to get it locally, I’d have to pay 70% of the full price out of pocket.

Here’s what our temps were running - first column is the date; second column the high, third column the low.

I opened the box, which contained a styrofoan container, which contained some former ice packs and 3 vials of Humalog. The ice packs were completely melted and felt very warm to the touch.

Here is my conversation:
K: I just opened shipment #–. The ice packs had melted and they, as well as the insulin, felt warm. I’m concerned it may be spoiled and would like to request a new shipment please.

P: Oh no, I’m sure it’s fine. We consider that the insulin can be in the box as long as 8 days. You got yours in 3.

K: I cannot take any chances with my blood sugar and don’t want to “test it out” to see if it’s working properly. I need the order replaced tomorrow.

P: That’s not possible.

K: Could I speak with a supervisor?

P: They all go home at 6. They need to spend time wit their families just as much as you do. (???)

K: I would like you to document all details of this phone call, and have a supervisor call me tomorrow morning.

P: Thank you for calling, and have a pleasant evening.

No one called me the following day. About 4 in the afternoon I phone them, asking for a supervisor. The supe said there was no record on my account of me having called the prior evening. Must have gotten lost. And no, since I received the shipment in 3 days, they would not be able to replace it. Even if the temps were in the 90’s.

Today I called my employer’s Patient Advocate Helpline, which assists employees with all types of insurance and quality of care problems. She said they’d been flooded with calls re problems with the new provider and she’d tell them they either had to replace the order, or completely cover me getting the insulin locally.

We’ll see. I’m not expecting any thrilling results.

I am not sure how you can assume that the insulin had gone bad. The temps you documented were not outrageously high. Think 100s all across the south and some parts of midwest. There are pump users who work in 100 degree temps and find that their insulin works fine.
If the insulin was shipped in 3 days, it is surprising that the ice packs had gotten fully warm. But still, I would be comfortable using the insulin until I found out that it was not working. I am not telling you to do that, just saying what I would do. If you find that the insulin is damaged, then I would definitely pursue with real supervisors at the mail order place. I find that it is difficult to get to "real" manager types unless you kick up a real fuss and keep asking for a manager with decision making authority.

I hope you can get the insulin replaced Kathy. That is definitely not something that I would take a chance with either. I only had insulin shipped to me once and it went back to the people that shipped it. I had to call the customer service number for my insurance to get the place to take it back.

Remember that insulin works in the human body that stay's a 98.6 As long as the temp is below 100, insulin should be fine for 8 days, like they said. Still doesn't make you feel good though does it? Mail order pharmacies always tick me off. So I've been fortunate enough to never have to use them. Except now I order my Omnipods mail order fashion, and it's turned out to be a problem too. Go figure. :(

I'd go ahead and use the insulin. If you get into trouble you can sue the hell out of them! :)