Why I Prescribe OMNI Combo Drops
Q&A With Steven R. Sarkisian, Jr., MD
Dr. Steven R. Sarkisian, Jr., is the founder and CEO of Oklahoma Eye Surgeons, PLLC, as well as the former director of the glaucoma fellowship at the Dean McGee Eye Institute and clinical professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oklahoma. (Click here to see his full bio.)
Dr. Sarkisian, a recent member of the Ocular Science® medical advisory board, has been prescribing OMNI combination drops from OSRXTM pharmacy to his glaucoma and cataract patients for more than a year.
Q1: You began prescribing OMNI combination drops from OSRX pharmacy almost a year ago. How would you assess the product’s viability so far?
OMNI combination drops (two to four medications in one) have radically changed my approach to the management of glaucoma, which really says something. I’ve been a glaucoma surgeon for quite a while and it’s rare to have something that shifts my thinking and my practice patterns this significantly.
For years, I’ve been telling my patients: “Friends don’t let friends use four glaucoma drops.” Now I can achieve this without necessarily taking them to the operating room.
Q2: How has patient compliance shifted since you started prescribing OMNI drops?
If you look at all the compliance data… the more drops a patient takes, the more compliance goes down. By keeping patients on as few bottles by using fixed combinations or by using meds that are used fewer times a day, they tend to manage it a lot better. It has nothing to do with intelligence; people often just tend to forget.
Being on a fixed combination of Latanoprost, Brimonidine, Dorzolomide and Timolol is remarkable and has been great for my patients for a variety of reasons.
Q3: What sort of patient feedback have you received regarding cost?
I have conversations with patients who are on two or three medicines regarding how much their co-pays are, and when they might fall into the doughnut hole, which can be big trouble for patients on three glaucoma drops – particularly if any are branded drops. So, cost is a big factor and patients recognize this.
Using drops from a compounded pharmacy like OSRX is better for my patients from a cost standpoint, an efficiency standpoint and a compliance standpoint.
Q4: You mention efficiency. Do any particular differences stand out between conventional pharmacies and compounding pharmacies?
An important issue compounding pharmacies help alleviate is the hassle factor. It’s a hassle for the patient, the doctor, and the doctor’s staff to deal with conventional pharmacies because every time an insurance plan changes its formulary, many patients are asked to switch to a medicine that the insurance company has contracted to get at a cheaper rate.
Too much overhead is wasted spending time on phone calls to pharmacies, patients, and insurance companies trying to figure out which drop will be covered, and which drop will be the least expensive for the patient. And, frankly, I’ve had enough. I’m on strike. I’m not going to have my people, who I value, waste their time. And I’m not going to have my patients treated so disrespectfully anymore.
Q5: Have you used compounding pharmacies other than OSRX?
I have… and haven’t been happy with the customer service at some of the other compounding pharmacies. I’m talking specifically about compounding pharmacies with a national distribution and a national outreach; they offer more than Big Pharma products, but unfortunately still have Big Pharma service.
We’re all on the same team, but as I go to battle for my patients, I want to make sure they have the best outcomes. I don’t want my staff to deal with phone-tag, waiting, inefficiency and unnecessary paperwork. Also, as a business owner, that time spent is money wasted.
Q6: How would you assess the customer service from OSRX?
The OSRX compounding pharmacy has really personalized their customer service. They’ve made the doctor-patient process very, very easy. Their reps are very accessible. Ours is Traci Inman. All the people in my office know her by name and reach out to her directly. They then don’t have to bother me; instead they know to get ahold of Traci to get any issues solved.
Q7: Discuss the issues of brand-name medicines versus compounded medicines. Is there a comparison?
With brand-name medications, the prescribing is still easy, but will the patient actually get what we prescribe them, given hassles with insurance companies and pharmacies? And will they actually take it? It’s certainly more efficient to call a pharmacy like OSRX to place a prescription, tell the patient we’re using that particular pharmacy and the OSRX pharmacy will send the medication directly to your house... As opposed to ‘what pharmacy do you use?’… or ‘what’s the mail order pharmacy that your insurance company has contracted with’… or that you have to use because they make you a slave to their drug formulary?
Q8: How does Big Pharma play into the mix?
I don’t propose that I understand all the machinations behind Big Pharma and how they do things, or how pharmacies run their business. But we will collectively call the world of corporate pharmaceuticals – “The Man.” For all that “The Man” does for the world, which I truly do appreciate, the end-user (patient) often falls through the cracks.
I’m not going to be so cold as to say Big Pharma doesn’t care, because they wouldn’t make money if they didn’t have some missional aspect. But when it comes to patients, unless they’re in a clinical trial, they often feel like a victim. It’s not just the pharmaceutical companies, though. It’s often the third-party payers, who in a lot of ways are complicit in the injustice against my patients. I credit them more with this mess than the drug companies.
Q9: Can you expand on the benefits of price transparency…
Knowing total price transparency is a relief. Otherwise, drug companies can sometimes get between you and the patient. I’m excited to recommend OSRX to friends and fellow physicians because their prices are always disclosed openly.
Professional Disclosure: Dr. Sarkisian is on the Medical Advisory Board for Ocular Science® (an OSRX affiliate) and has a financial interest in the company.