Question

Hey Dr. Bob,

I've been HIV positive for nearly as long as you have and I've been following your work here on this site for years. You've helped me out on several occassions before and now I need your advice again. I'm anemic and after a bit of pushing I convinced my doc to prescribe Procrit. When I went to the pharmacy to pick it up I was surprised to see it was tablets. I called the pharmacy and they told me it was correct and I called my doctors office and was told by the advice person that the doctor knows what he's doing and I should follow the directions on the prescription. Looking closely at the bottle it says "proscar" not procrit. Is proscar the oral formulation of procrit as I'm being told? I haven't heard you mention a tablet or oral form of the medication so I'm a bit leary and thought I should check with you.

Love, Rebecca

Answer

Hello Rebecca,

You're a "Rebecca," and your doctor prescribed "Proscar" to treat your anemia? Wow, there are so many mistakes here; I hardly know where to begin. This situation would be analogous to George Dubya requesting Mel "Mad Max" Gibson come to the White House for a screening of his "Passion" movie, and instead someone invites Michael Moore and his "Fahrenheit 9/11" (an infinitely better film, by the way). As you can see, there indeed was a mistake or miscommunication of significant importance. I'm glad you wrote in to help clear this up.

First off, Proscar and Procrit are two completely different medications. Procrit is a medication to treat anemia. It stimulates the production of new red blood cells. It is an injectable medication and self-administered once per week via a small injection given just under the skin. Proscar, on the other hand, is an oral tablet medication used to treat urinary retention in men, resulting form benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate gland). Unless Rebecca is your drag name, you shouldn't even have a prostate gland!

I'm amazed you contacted both the pharmacy and your doctor's office, and were consistently given the wrong advice. I don't know what really went wrong here. Perhaps the doctor has really bad handwriting, which led the pharmacy to mistake Proscar for Procrit. But, that doesn't explain how the tablets could be injected once per week, which should have been the instructions given with the prescription! So as for "the doctor knowing what he's doing" well . . . I'd say the verdict's still out on that one. And that advice guy . . . I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes the White House's new press secretary.

Rebecca, recontact your doctor and pharmacist and point out the "misunderstanding." If necessary, print out and show them a copy of this post. If they are not appropriately mortified, you might consider searching for a more competent healthcare team.

Stay well, Rebecca!

Dr. Bob