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Posts Tagged ‘Affordable Health Care’

Medicine, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s face it, we’ve just about cured childhood leukemia and polio has almost been eradicated from the face of the earth. The bad news, besides Ebola, is sometimes the side effects of taking life lengthening drugs makes you want to die sooner, just ask any cancer survivor. And the ugly? It’s the business of big pharma and insurance companies in this country.

We’ve all heard about people up in Michigan, who travel across the border to Canada to buy their drugs. The medical community will usually give drug manufacturers a pass for the high costs, believing that the money it takes for research and development to bring a new drug to market offsets the limited time they can be marketed on their patent, before the patent expires and the drug goes generic.

A company must apply for a patent before they go into clinical trials with a new drug, so the usual profit-making time can be whittled down to seven or maybe ten years. Barely enough time to make back their investment, right?

Well Baby Boomers rejoice! There’s a new HepatitisC drug that has virtually erased this virus from the blood stream. And now you can fly to India, first class, purchase this drug and fly back, first class for less than it would cost you to take a course of this liver-saving drug in the good ole USA!

The drug is Sovaldi and it has a 94%+ cure rate, yes CURE…and it doesn’t have the horrible flu-like-side-effects of previous drugs. I know someone who was part of the test study in NC and she has been totally cured after carrying the diagnosis for over 30 years! The drug company, Gilead, just brought the drug to market this summer and so far the results are outstanding.

The problem is, Sovaldi is a thousand dollars a pill! It costs Americans $84,000 for a 12 week course to cure HepC – hence the flight to India scenario. And OK, if you have insurance, or your state has accepted Medicare expansion, well then maybe you can afford to take this drug. I wondered aloud why we haven’t seen a lot of breaking news about this breakthrough cure. After all, chronic HepC affects 150 million people worldwide. It is a slow, silent killer.

If a drug came along that cured 95% of cancers we’d be sure to hear about it.

“Sovaldi is already on track to be one of the world’s biggest-selling drugs, with sales in 2014 – its first full year on the market – set to exceed $11 billion, according to consensus forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters Cortellis.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/15/us-gilead-sciences-india-idUSKBN0HA0TT20140915

Bob tells me another drug company is about to release another HepC drug, one that may prove 100% effective in curing HepC. So my cynical mind thinks the reason California-based Gilead is now offering its drug to the developing world at a fraction of the cost ($300 a month in India) is so that it can corner the market on the planet before this new drug is released…or maybe it’s because they are such an altruistic brand? http://blogs.hepmag.com/lucindakporter/2014/04/new_hepatitis_c_drug.html

If you are over 60 it’s probably a good time to ask your doctor for a HepC test. If you needed a blood transfusion during surgery. If you were a soldier in Vietnam, sharing blood with your brothers on the battlefield, or if you dabbled in drugs, sharing needles during a Love-In, you may have been infected. Medical workers who experienced a needle stick, before the advent of HIV-prevention methods, could also have contracted the blood-borne virus. If you had sex with someone who has the virus, at any time over the past 40-50 years. You may not even know it, or show any symptoms until it is too late.

Higher cure rates, fewer side-effects. Let’s hear it for American Big Pharma, and their gigantic profit margins. For me, I’m enjoying Ken Burns’ Roosevelt documentary – http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/films/the-roosevelts – and dreaming about a time when a President could wrangle banks and trusts and bend them to his will! When Teddy brokered peace between Japan and Russia and built a canal through Panama. I wonder what Teddy would do with Sovaldi and Syria?

Yellowstone National Park archives

Yellowstone National Park archives

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Since it’s a well known fact that humor helps one heal, I’ve been actively seeking the punch lines in my not-so-funny mountainside life. Even if it makes Bob cough up a lung, I’m sure it will be that pesky right-lower-lobe one. So follow along online http://www.funnyordie.com

We watched the latest Hangover movie and agreed with the President on the web series “Between Two Ferns,” some movies are better left standing and not reincarnated with sequels. As much as President Obama was making his pitch for millennials to sign up for Affordable Health Care, I was happy to see that much of what went on with Zach Galifianakis was really good improv – “If I ran a third time, it’d be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?” http://www.vulture.com/2014/03/president-obama-between-two-ferns-making-of.html

But does humor and/or laughter really boost our immunity and help us fight off germs? If we’re talking evidence-based science here, the doctor is out! According to an article in Psychology Today, “Can Humor and Laughter Boost Your Health?” we haven’t thoroughly studied the effects of humor on the body, the research just isn’t there. In fact, humor writers and comedians seem to die younger than other career choices; still pretty anecdotal when we think about all those late nights and before/banning/cigarettes/from smoky bars.

The challenge is to conduct well designed studies which take into account possible confounding variables. One of the main things that needs to be accounted for is the separation of humor and laughter. If humor does have some analgesic effect, the question is, is it due to the cognitive enjoyment of the joke or is it because we laugh? Laughter releases endorphins in our brain and could hold the key for any health benefits. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201202/can-humor-and-laughter-boost-your-health

This morning on CBS Sunday Morning I saw a Harvard scientist light up the brains of people watching Seinfeld in an MRI machine. Now first of all, I wouldn’t call Jerry laugh out loud funny, but maybe that was his point. Like the New Yorker cartoon you don’t get and then, wham! You get it. His finding was that it’s not just the funny part of the brain (in the amygdala) that is stimulated, it’s that pre-frontal cortex where all our critical thinking takes place. So a joke not only has to be wacky, but wise to a certain degree. To hit that sweet spot between silly and serious.

In a world where mud can start sliding in Washington, and the earth can start shaking in Southern California, and when Vladimir Putin just walks into a country because he can, not to mention a post-flu pneumonia that nearly lands your hubby in the hospital, our species needs a little light entertainment. There has to be a Yiddish saying about this. You know, “Man plans, God laughs.” So thanks for that picture on Vogue Kimye, cause the satirical reiterations are hysterical. We’re a ride or die family over here, just sayin.

vague-cover-the-muppets-lead-2

 

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