Friday, November 20, 2009

Attitude is the best medicine

With all the talk about medicines and costs, pharmaceutical companies and health care reform, I realized this morning that I’d overlooked something that’s so very important-- and doesn't cost a penny. Pharmaceutical companies don't control it and insurance companies can't refuse this treatment.

I was reminded by one of the many cancer patients I correspond with. She brought up something I’d said to her over a year ago:

"Your positive attitude will help cure you. No matter what any doctor says, it’s of the utmost importance in beating this disease. It's the strongest medicine that God gave us: Our will to live."

Yes, I know that it’s easier said than done. Cancer and the effects of the medicines needed to fight it can, and for the most part, do kick your ass, and there are times you fear you're losing the fight.

However, to quote Napoleon Bonaparte:  

"He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Greedy drug makers

I read an article in The New York Times yesterday that is, as far as I’m concerned, the "writing on the wall."

The article said that in the last year the drug-making industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation's drug bill, which will exceed $300 billion this year. The drug companies say they have valid business reasons for price increases. Critics say they’re only trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.

The Times article quotes a Harvard health economist saying he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases from the drug makers after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices in a move to maximize their profits.

The drug companies say they have to raise their prices to invest in research and development of new drugs.

I say it’s greed.

Bottom line: drug companies can charge whatever they want.

from: The New York Times
By Duff Wilson

“The drug industry has actively opposed some of the cost-cutting provisions in the House legislation, which passed Nov. 7 and aims to cut drug spending by about $14 billion a year over a decade.

“But the drug makers have been proudly citing the agreement they reached with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee chairman to trim $8 billion a year — $80 billion over 10 years — from the nation’s drug bill by giving rebates to older Americans and the government. That provision is likely to be part of the legislation that will reach the Senate floor in coming weeks. 

“But this year’s price increases would effectively cancel out the savings from at least the first year of the Senate Finance agreement. And some critics say the surge in drug prices could change the dynamics of the entire 10-year deal. 

“‘It makes it much easier for the drug companies to pony up the $80 billion because they’ll be making more money,’ said Steve D. Findlay, senior health care analyst with the advocacy group Consumers Union...”

If the drug companies can change the price of their products whenever they want to, then shouldn't we as consumers be able to shop for the best prices... anywhere in the world?

Example: Alpha Lipoic Acid. At the clinic here in the States it's $350 for five vials. In Germany, the same medicine costs $150 for five vials. I could have it shipped from Germany for $28.50.  Total savings: $171.50.

This makes me crazy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Death card

I was talking to my brother Bill on the phone a couple of days ago about something that I think should be addressed in this great healthcare debate. I know this may sound crazy to some people, but I think you'd agree with me if you’ve been told to go home and get your affairs in order because you'll be dead within a year. I honestly think that once you are given that diagnosis, you should be able to seek out any treatment or medicine in the world, whether approved in this country or not, and have it sent to you.

My brother said, “It'll never happen. How would they monitor it?”

I said, “Issue a ‘death card.’ When your medicine arrives at customs, give them your death card to swipe, your medical information will upload, and clear you to receive the medicine.”

Bill laughed at the term “death card,” then said, “That's a great idea...

“It'll never happen.”