CVS customer speaking in car with caption 'that the reason my medication is so much more expensive this year than last year' (l) CVS Pharmacy building with sign and blue sky (c) CVS customer speaking in car with caption 'at first the medication company keeps the price low to get you in the door' (r)

BCFC/Shutterstock @saintames/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘To get you in the door to get you hooked’: Customer says CVS pharmacist told them the real reason their medication price went up this year

'Your doc needs to do some fighting for you.'


Phil West


Posted on Apr 26, 2023

An author who writes about disability went to TikTok to share their horror story trying to secure a medication essential to their life—only to discover it’s increased tenfold in price from last year.

The TikTok comes from the @saintames account, run by author Ames Mullery. According to the bio on an Amazon page linked to their TikTok account, “Mullery lives in San Diego, Calif. in a little wheelchair-accessible house on a hill with their husband, dog, cat, and snake. … Chronically ill since childhood, Mullery writes about the horrors and wonders of body ownership from a disabled perspective.”

Mullery posted the video on March 30. As of April 26, it has drawn more than 459,000 views. In the video, Mullery begins by noting, “I’m crying in my car outside of CVS because the pharmacist just explained to me that the reason my medication is so much more expensive this year than last year is because, at first, the medication company keeps the price low to get you in the door and get you hooked.”

They then add, “Exact quotes. Her words, not mine.”


♬ original sound – Saint Ames

Mullery continues by pointing out the severity of their situation.

“This is not a Starbucks. If I don’t take this medication, I can’t shit. And if I can’t shit, then I throw up everything I try to eat because there’s no room for it in my body. And then I slowly start to die.”

They also explain that the medication cost $35 with a coupon last year. This year, the coupon only brings the cost of the medication down to $300.

“They increase the price times 10 so they can make money off of my need to stay alive,” Mullery says. They also share choice words—namely, the F word—for Aetna, their insurance company.

In the comments section, viewers suggested how the TikToker can handle their situation.

“Your doc needs to do some fighting for you,” one advised. “If you documented that you’ve tried everything else, you have a chance at it being covered.”

“Nurse who does prior authorizations here: notify your doctor’s office, tell them they need to either do a prior authorization and document EVERYTHING or have them do a tier exception,” another viewer suggested. “I do it all the time. It’s a pain but I do anything to make the insurance companies take care of my patients.”

“State Attorney General’s office,” another person said. “Some of them do actually get involved with stuff like this.”

A further viewer, who claimed to have experience dealing with Aetna before, said, “Call Aetna and tell them to send an ‘Exception to Coverage’ form to your doctor. They won’t offer to do it, you need to ask.”

Of course, some viewers wondered why it had to be such a hassle at all.

“I’m so sorry this has happened! Freaking pharmaceutical companies and their greed,” one commenter said, before suggesting “dandelion root tea [and] mushroom stock soup” to help Mullery with their issues.

“That’s why many people go to Mexico for medication,” said another, further indicting the American health care system.

The Daily Dot contacted Mullery via TikTok comment and Aetna via email for further information.

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*First Published: Apr 26, 2023, 5:07 pm CDT