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Chocolate Lab Survives Because of Publix Free Antibiotics

September 22, 2009

I was waiting for my last patient of the day.  “Chocolate” was a 2 year-old chocolate labrador retriever.  He had been seen by an emergency vet the night before, and I was supposed to check him to see how he was doing.  I was told he had bumps on his body, had a bunch of tests done, but still no one knew what was wrong with him or how to treat him.

I wish I had taken a picture!  A happy, Chocolate Lab walked into my waiting room, sniffing every nook and cranny as he went.  But — and I am not exaggerating — he had huge, soccer-ball sized lumps on his shoulder, his chest, and under his arm.  They were slightly squishy and jiggled when he walked.  He didn’t care.  His owner, Jose, looked a little worried.

The soccer balls were hematomas – blood filled lumps.  I had never seen ones so large!  And especially not on a dog who felt perfectly fine (There’s a lot of blood in hematomas!)  The tests narrowed his diagnosis down to a disorder of the platelets in the blood.  Not to bore you – platelets are like little microscopic bandages in the blood vessels that plug up microscopic holes and keep your blood from leaking out into a soccer ball.  The most likely reason in Chocolate’s case was a disease spread by tick bites, called a rickettsial disease.

Chocolate’s dad had no more money left to run expensive tests.  (He had already agreed to so many.)  Jose told me that the emergency veterinarian had wanted Chocolate to take an antibiotic called doxycycline the night before.  But a prescription Chocolate’s size costs $100 a week!  He just couldn’t do it.

I said to Jose, “Do you know that doxycycline is on a list of 2-weeks-free antibiotics at Publix?  Let me write you a prescription.”

“Free?  What do you mean, free?”

“Free.  Publix will fill your prescription for 2 weeks of free doxycycline.”

Jose looked like he was going to cry.  Chocolate found a piece of cat fur under a chair that smelled particularly fascinating.  I wrote the prescription.

Jose called the other day.  Chocolate took all of his medicine.  The soccer balls shrunk and disappeared.  Thank Publix for helping save Chocolate’s life!

P.S.  Dogs take much, much more doxycycline than humans.  So the prescriptions are much more expensive than for a person.  Publix has never refused to fill my prescriptions from their short, but vital, list of generic antibiotics.

P.P.S.  Doxycycline was added to the list after the 2007 launch of the program.  Thank goodness for Chocolate’s sake.

P.P.P.S.  Publix states that the antibiotics on its list account for 50% of pediatric prescriptions, so targeting these medications helps thousands of families.  This is not an advertisement for Publix.  I’m just so happy my patient is cured!

P.P.P.P.S. 2014 Publix no longer offers Doxycycline for free. At least they helped this dog!

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