I like many of my fellow Americans use prescription drugs. I have for many years struggled with a medical issue which arrived in childhood. I need this medication on a near daily basis, and I consider myself lucky enough to be able to afford it. I have a good job outside of my writing dreams. I have insurance coverage and have never been denied any benefits based off a pre-existing condition.
As you well know, many Americans do not have this luxury.
I find it odd that I have to use that word; Luxury. Healthcare is a luxury in our country. Our broken healthcare system is now at its worst since I can remember. It could be better, but we lack the will to make a system which makes it easier for people to afford it – and before you prepare your reflexive opinions – trust me it can be done.
One of the largest challenges the system faces are costs associated with care, including medication. There are troves of documentaries about the pharmaceutical industry and its ability to knife into the heart of our culture, pressure doctors to prescribe medication, sometimes without knowing the full results of what happens to a person’s brain chemistry. I’m not against medication, but it has to be used in an intelligent way. Big Pharma wants your money, and they’ve got more than enough backers in the government to find a way to get your dollar. Can you believe in the current age that it’s legal to increase drug prices like what happened just weeks ago. A steroid called Deflazacort (Emflaza), which was approved for treating types of muscular dystrophy, used to be priced around 1-2K a year, but not anymore. A Deerfield, IL company recently got FDA approval to crank that price up to a cool $89,000 – a 6000% increase. Now they do this because of a series of laws and regulations written into our books that allow it.
If that didn’t make you mad, there are several more instances of it happening throughout our recent history. I firmly believe some drug makers are in it to help people and make a stable business environment for themselves. Companies have to make some profit, I get that, but 6000% more? Martin Shkreli would flash you his staple shit eating grin if he could, yet this time he’d have to do it from behind bars.
So what’s to be done?
Well there are several options, but finding a method by which to change or alter our healthcare system is only going to set people’s hair on fire after the fight over the ACA. That being said, it’s a fight worth having, because people’s lives are at stake. If someone can’t get their insulin, cancer treatment, or other critical medication, we have a problem. I say we because when families can’t pay for the medication they need, pockets of society tumble out of control. There’s a path which we could build toward, one where a fair and honest system exists to provide healthcare without gutting an entire industry of jobs because of loss profit.
We’ve lost the ability to have reasonable debates and conversations in many arenas. Debate is something we should have on this issue, but much like gun safety challenges, it is something we must act on. I see the lack of a logical and easy to navigate system as a stumbling block for what we could do as a country. It is another argument that stands in the way of us doing what we could be doing – moving forward.
Pharmaceutical costs affect almost every single person on this planet in one way or another. We must stop acting as if someone else’s problem doesn’t affect us, because it does. Even if you’re a staunch believer in people making their own way and bootstrap mentality, you’ll run the risk of finding out the hard way what happens when it’s you who needs that medication or a loved one.
Wake up, before you need a pill for that too.
After a long week of revisions and edits on the manuscript, I’m almost ready to release it to my trusted beta readers. Once I gain insight from the feedback they give me, I’ll make some final changes and prepare to begin my search for an agent. I’ve compiled a long list and organized it after doing several weeks of research (read stalking) on what each agent prefers. It’s a process which delays my excitement, but it is one I stand to learn quite a bit from.