Sue Falkner Wood
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Sue Falkner Wood

Sue Falkner Wood lives in Astoria, Ore. and writes a blog on EverydayHealth.com called “Life with Chronic Pain: A How-to Guide.” She retired from nursing in 1990 because of a chronic cartilage disorder.

The Medicine Men

The medicine men are coming to town and they have something to sell. Grab grandma and the kiddies; be sure to take your wallet because the medicine men are selling their usual "tonic." They'll have banjos, tambourines and fiddles and the music will be lively as they fiddle you into stepping to their tune. They're here to entertain you.  They will show you some new tricks, as well as some old tricks, 'cause they're very versatile. Everyone in town will turn out to see the tricks, hear the speeches and hopefully, be entertained. The question is, will there be anything new or will it all be a redo of the old do? Some of the speeches are going to be ugly so you'd better hide the kids or cover their innocent little ears as the talk turns to tragedy, loss and suffering. They will describe the evils of the flesh and the suffering throughout the land, all the while encouraging you to buy their patent medicine. It's new. It's good for you. It will cure everything that ails you. 

That was the way it used to be as needy individuals laid down their 25 cents for a bottle of magic, a balm for all their problems and all the answers to life. Unfortunately, that's still going on today as the pharmaceutical companies back up their truck to all full-service clinics, mental health and outpatient clinics and doctor's offices.  Let me share one scenario with you: My husband, who is the only public health nurse at our local county jail, sees a daily assortment of felons, addicts, drunks and often, the mentally ill. They all have an assortment of medications they have received, very often as samples from one of the local clinics.  Many of the drugs are outrageously expensive. For instance, the antipsychotic drug Seroquel costs $900 per month when dispensed at the maximum dose. These patients can't afford those expensive drugs when they are out of jail so they get samples; when in jail, if those drugs are given, our small, poor county could take the hit.  I ask you, what is the difference between these samples and the free "hit" given by the drug pusher on the corner who is recruiting users? The ads on television and every magazine are costly and definitely directed toward the consumer, not the doctor. How many doctors are sitting in their waiting rooms reading those magazines?  They're too busy dealing with the patients streaming into the physicians offices stating, "I want this drug." It's legal, it's ridiculous and it's lucrative.

The recent offer of the drug companies to cover the doughnut hole of the already very inadequate Medicare part D coverage is a tiny first step. At least it's for the seniors who have worked in our country for years, are here legally and deserve to live lives free of despair in their final years. It's just a token when you compare it to the ads, the samples and all the new drugs that are being cranked out every time one of "theirs" goes generic. Bring in the research department, add or switch around a molecule or two and voila! You've got a "brand new" drug. It's difficult to keep track of all the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs that are on the market, as well as all the proton pump inhibitors.

Yes, indeed, if you plunk down your 25 cents and pick up your bottle of elixir, all of your problems will disappear; then if you embrace each aspect of the President's health plan, you will never again have a care in the world. If you buy that, I have a bridge I can sell you, but alas, you won't have any money left to buy a bridge or anything else.

By Sue Falkner Wood  |  June 24, 2009; 4:14 PM ET  | Category:  Health Care Reform , Pharmaceutical Companies Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Good News for Seniors, Not A Big Sacrifice For Pharma | Next: The Rest of the Story

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