The People vs Big Pharma

People vs Big Pharma

There is a large outcry from the American public when it comes to the healthcare crisis in the country. One of the largest contributing factors is the cost of medications. The cost of medicines in the US is on the increase and the vast majority are only partially covered by insurance, if even that. Most people are familiar with the story of the Epipen that went from a cost of $100 for two pens in 2007 to a cost of $600 for those same two pens in 2016. Yet, that is simply the tip of the pharmaceutical iceberg. What about other common medicines prescribed for everyday use in order to keep people alive? They are also increasing at an alarming rate all pretty much due to the companies that make them placing profit over people.

A friend of mine is a diabetic. In December 2016, she paid $250 for a bottle of insulin which she goes through in about a week. A couple of days ago, that same bottle cost her $305. That’s a 22 percent increase in 5 months. Simply do the math on this. There are 52 weeks in each year. At $250 per week, that’s $13,000 a year. At $305 per week, that increases to $15,860. This is for medicine that keeps my friend and countless others alive, and that’s just for the medicine and with her having insurance. In total, she say it costs her over $2,000 a month for supplies. $24,000 a year. While the cost of insulin in the U.S. varies depending on brand and type from a low of $24 for a 10ml bottle of Novolin N (GoodRx.com) to a high of $688 for 5 solostar pens of Soliqua 100/33 (GoodRx.com), that still makes for an average price of $356 to keep someone alive, plus the costs of other supplies needed. If that is a weekly cost, that is $18,512 per week just for insulin and that’s only an average. Head to Canada and the average cost ranges from $0 to $3,427 per year for everything (healthydebate.ca).

Take a closer look at that comparison using my friend’s estimates per month. It costs her over $24,000 a year while someone in Canada could pay $3,427 per year for the same or similar treatment. That’s almost a 700% difference in cost. Just to stay alive.

So, why isn’t the cost coming down in the U.S.? Free market dictates cost or, as my friend relates from her pharmacist, “…the drug companies can charge what they want because they know desperate people will pay what they ask.”

Since when should people have to choose between staying alive or not due to their having a medical condition that was genetic?

Since the idea of higher profits exceeded the call to help others. I’d hazard to guess the average pay of the CEOs of the big pharmaceutical companies hasn’t dropped and that it likely increased as the price of the medications increased.

Why? Ask your elected official who received a big donation from a big pharmaceutical company why. The government has the ability to regulate the cost of medications, especially life sustaining or life saving ones. They choose not to in order to cater to their donors. This is not simply wrong, it is immoral.

Speaking of the morality of healthcare, some GOP politicians have even said that if people led better lives or were more religious, then they wouldn’t have a medical condition. It doesn’t take a physician to say that their way of thinking is bogus. Yet, it is far more than bogus as it is sinister. Genetic conditions happen. It’s no fault of a person that he or she develops diabetes or leukemia or cystic fibrosis or any other disease that has been shown to be genetic.

People need to stand up against this immorality! Healthcare and affordable medications are a right, not a privilege to extend to only a select few who have the means to afford it. There is no reason why any developed country in the 21st Century should have people who have to choose between paying bills and affording medical care.

I have lost friends due to lack of healthcare and have many more who are ill and faced with financial burdens that they should not be facing in a country of such wealth.

Call, write, email, or visit (or all of the above) your elected officials, especially your Senators as they work to revise the horrible Trumpcare bill that was passed by the House of Representatives. Do the same with the pharmaceutical companies. Let them know that we demand that they make medications affordable for all people. We can make a difference, but we have to speak out to do so! Silence will not enact change, only actively seeking and demanding change will.

Please Help A Veteran Have A Home

I recently launched a4-455E6BCC-564561-800 Go Fund Me campaign that likely has some questioning its existence. I hope to explain these in this article. I also hope to explain why this campaign is so important to me.

First, a bit of background. In late 2012, my wife was offered the opportunity to take a temporary job assignment outside of the U.S. As this would be an accompanied assignment, it meant she and I and our children would be moving. We faced a dilemma of what to do with our house. With the market being such that it was, we knew selling it would not work very well for our short time frame. Therefore, we chose to try to rent it out. Renting your home to strangers when you are living outside of the United States can be risky. After all, it isn’t possible to monitor the tenants nor how they treat the property in your absence. We really did not want to get into a mess with the whole renting thing, but had no choice given our decision to move for my wife’s job.

About this same time, a former student and her husband were about to return to the U.S. from Germany where he had been stationed. Well, where his wife, my former student, had been living while he was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army. They were seeking a nice place to live back in her hometown. Now, houses in the area are rather expensive as are the rents. As she looked for houses to rent, she located one that she liked. She spoke with the owners/landlords who were willing to rent to them. However, they wanted to meet her husband first. On the day he could be there to look at the house, he got out of their vehicle. Now, Devin (not his real name) is a rather rough looking individual. He has a few tattoos and is built like a fighter, as he should be given his stint with the Army. When they went to the door, the owner/landlord said the house was already to be rented to someone else. It seemed to the couple that this decision was made based on the veteran’s appearance rather than the truth. However, they are not the type of people to confront individuals who are being ignorant about judging appearances over character, so they went away still looking for a place to live.

She and I came into contact with one another and I mentioned our situation with needing to find renters. Angela (not her real name) brought Devin over to see the house. They fell in love with it. We talked more and discovered that what they could afford was less than our mortgage payment, but time was growing short for us to find someone to trust with our house. After a great deal of prayer and soul searching, we agreed to rent to them for less than what we pay each month for our mortgage. Financially, not the best idea, but something just told us that this house was meant for them. We’d always seen the next owners as a young couple as it is a good starter house in a fairly decent part of the town. The plan was for them to rent to own the house from us.

A couple of months passed and we moved out and they moved in. Everything seemed to be working for all of us. Angela was attending school part-time and working. Devin was working steady as well. However, things would not remain good. He started showing signs of PTSD from his tour in Afghanistan. (As I learned from Devin, he had been sent to Afghanistan to be a mechanic for the vehicles. However, they needed a gunner and placed him in that position. While on patrol, his convoy hit an IED).

When it came to his new job back here, he was laid off after a couple of months. Eventually, after a couple of months, he got another job, only to be laid off shortly thereafter. They fell behind on their bills and lost their only car. Still, they managed to get by, but unfortunately did so by relying on check advance services. Adding insult to injury, they suffered another miscarriage.

We noticed that rent was late and worked with them to keep a roof over their heads by allowing them to pay what they could to us. This, in turn, reduced what savings we had as well since we needed to borrow from what little we had in savings to pay our bills since I cannot locate employment in the country where we are living. Fortunately, both of them are back to working full time again, but they still struggle to make ends meet as they are trying to catch up on their bills. We are still working with them when it comes to rent, but it is becoming hard on all of us. A recent update from this couple advised me that they are now parents to twins. As joyful as this is for them after trying for so long, I know that this will also lead to more expenses for them.

When I was praying the other day, it struck me. If people who care only for themselves can start a Go Fund Me campaign, why can’t someone who actually wants to help someone else? So, I started a campaign to try to raise the funds needed to pay off the mortgage on the house and give it to this young couple. They take great care of the place as if it was already their own. They have served our country as both a soldier and the spouse of a soldier. They are hard-working honest people who just need something to give them a chance to get back on more solid ground financially. They have worked so hard for the past two years to try to buy this house and have a home of their own. We would like to see that happen sooner for them rather than later.

Some people may be wondering, when they see this campaign, as to if I plan to profit from the sale of the house. The simple answer is no. All this campaign is for is the amount owed on the mortgage so that we can give this family the house. Nothing more than that. Is it a loss on our part not to try to make a profit on the sale of the house? Maybe, given we lived in that house for over 12 years and we want nothing from any equity that may have built up over the years.

However, that is not what this is about. It is about helping a veteran and his wife and family have a decent home of their own. Alone, we cannot afford to do this for them. We have tried and continue to try. However, maybe if others help, then this can come to fruition.

The only profit I’ll make on this is knowing that the house is theirs. Yes, the mortgage will be paid, but when we hand the deed to this couple, it will be far more worth it than the house is to us. The house will be theirs.

Some may question why I am not giving the couple’s real names. It is out of respect for them. I know that once Devin found out about this idea, he was embarrassed and feels that somehow he is a failure as a provider. I have assured him that he isn’t. All of us have fallen on tough times sometime in our lives. Theirs has been a bit overwhelming though. I can assure you that they are no relation to us. If anyone wants to know more about them privately, then I will answer that as best I can. However, I wish to continue to respect their privacy and will not reveal their names outside of a private email to anyone who requests it.

I double checked with the folks at Go Fund Me to see if this was a valid campaign and they approved it before I even started it. I tried to run this without the couple knowing, but they found out as I posted the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Again, they are a bit embarrassed that I’m doing this as they truly wanted to make it all on their own, but agreed to let me continue with the campaign. They are continuing to try to make full rent payments as this campaign continues. I will make every effort to update the amount needed as the mortgage amount decreases. The amount we are looking to raise will go down through both our mortgage payments being made as well as any contributions the campaign may raise. I will not take any funds from this campaign until we are at goal and only then to pay off the mortgage so we can give this family their house.

The link for the campaign is gofundme.com/HelpAVetHaveAHome.

Thank you.