The world of big pharma is an interesting place—and a profitable one at that! Where else would the cost of a product rise 2,000% overnight?
You read that correctly: Clycloserine, a drug used to treat a rare form of tuberculosis, recently did just that—increasing 2,000% overnight. And shockingly, it isn’t alone. Daraprim, a drug used to treat life-threating parasitic infections, jumped a whopping 5,500% overnight, as well. Even certain heart medications have seen recent jumps of 212% and 525%.
How Does This Happen?
For the most part, it’s Wall Street. Groups of investors are buying up older drugs and turning them into “specialty drugs.” It’s profit-driven and patients who need treatment are viewed as customers who, unfortunately, can be priced out of the market. It’s an unethical practice that leaves lives hanging in the balance—essentially saying that if you can’t pay, you’re not worth it.
And it’s not just these astronomical jumps—like taking the cost of a pill from $13.50 to $750.00 in less than 24 hours—that indicate how badly you’re being gouged. Recent research also suggests that effective new cholesterol drugs like Amgen are “vastly overpriced” and should be readjusted to only one-third of the level set by the drug manufacturers. All of a sudden, even basic health care has become a luxury for the rich, like buying a new big-screen television or a brand new Mercedes.
How You Can Fight Back Against This Medical Rip Off
Luckily, in some instances, you can fight back and save your health without their expensive pills. When it comes to a cholesterol drug, for example, you have options. There are lifestyle decisions you can make that will substantially lower cholesterol. These decisions include eating less processed food, increasing fiber intake, getting more exercise, and taking omega-3 fatty acid and garlic supplements.
But for more serious conditions, like rare forms of tuberculosis, ensuring your health is protected is more difficult. There is data that suggests treating tuberculosis with vitamin D can be effective. One study indicates that white blood cells convert vitamin D into a tuberculosis-fighting protein, while another indicates that 10,000 units of vitamin D ultimately cured the disease. But there still needs to be more work done to validate the efficacy of these alternative treatments, especially compared to their unfortunately overpriced counterparts.
The greed of mainstream medicine could be shooting itself in the foot if it keeps this behavior up. Because of the rising costs of medicine, hospitals may be forced to focus on cheaper, alternative treatments—many are available to you right now. This sad stage in American health care history might pave the way for further studies and the advancement of natural health options.
But for the time being, we must exist within the current system. Navigating that system can seem difficult at times, but it doesn’t mean you’re powerless. For example, the CEO of Turling Pharmaceuticals has come out saying he will cut the price of Daraprim. He’s reacting to the heavy media coverage and outrage over his decision, indicating the power of public dissent.
If you feel like you’re being overcharged for medicine, make it heard. There’s a good chance people across the country feel the same way, and by going to the media, you can unite with others to make change.
You can also talk to your doctor about treatment options that are more affordable. Name-brand drugs are often far more expensive than generic ones, even though it is the same thing. Being aware of your options is the first step in avoiding paying too much for the care you deserve and are entitled to.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Tuberculosis drug jumps 2,000%, shocks doctors,” CBC News web site, last updated September 22, 2015; http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/tb-drug-price-cycloserine-1.3237868.
Pollack, A., “New cholesterol drugs are vastly overpriced,” New York Times web site, September 8, 2015; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/09/business/new-cholesterol-drugs-are-vastly-overpriced-analysis-says.html?action=click&contentCollection=Business%20Day&module=RelatedCoverage®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article.
Pollack, A., “Drug goes from $13.50 a tablet to $750” New York Times web site, September 20, 2015; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/a-huge-overnight-increase-in-a-drugs-price-raises-protests.html?_r=0.
Liu, P. T., et al., “Toll-Like Receptor Triggering of a Vitamin D-Mediated Human Antimicrobial Response,” Science 2006; 311(5768): 1770–1773, doi: 10.1126/science.1123933.
Nursyam, E.W., et al., “The effect of vitamin D as supplementary treatment in patients with moderately advanced pulmonary tuberculous lesion,” Acta Medica Indonesiana (The Indonesian Journal of Internal Medicine) January – March 2006; 38(1): 3–5.