Friday, May 20, 2011

Do You Want A Prescription With That? Heathcare Costs. Miracle Drug Costs Pennies. Cargo Trailer and Shopping.

Prescription Drugs
"The headlines tell it all. One day they're announcing how great a drug is, and the next thing you know, they're saying it's not so great after all. In this world of mass media and constantly-changing health information, people are confused about the paradoxical health information they're getting, and they're fed up.
It's gotten so bad that the North Carolina Time-News says a growing number of cynical patients are refusing to take their medicine.
But is that such a bad thing?

Prescribing Drugs is what Doctors Do

Just what is it that doctors do, anyway? During your last appointment with a physician of any sort, specialist or primary care, what happened?
  • Did you have a chat about diet, exercise, nutrition, eating plans, or stress management?
  • Were you cautioned not to consume too much refined sugar or flour?
  • Were you given advice on natural supplements or lifestyle changes that can help you achieve optimal health?
Or did the entire appointment simply address the symptoms you came in with or a screening for an illness you might have? And did it end with the doctor giving you a prescription?
Unless your physician specializes in nutrition or holistic medicine, the prescription was probably the main focus of your appointment. That's because treating symptoms and diseases – and prescribing drugs for them – is what modern doctors do.
I know this because I was a physician who used to do just that. Literally thousands of my patients walked out of every appointment with me with a drug prescription in hand, before I learned how to effectively use natural life style modifications that I review in my book, Take Control of Your Health.   But don't just take my word for it.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) describes doctors' jobs on its website. And what the BLS says doctors "do" is diagnosis illnesses and prescribe treatments. It also mentions counseling patients on such things as diet, hygiene, and preventive health care – but when was the last time your doctor did that?

Why Don't Doctors Spend More Time on Preventive Care?

A 1984 survey of primary care physicians in New York found that 87 percent agreed that they should  add preventive medicine in the form of health promotion and disease prevention to their patient care.
There were three reasons they didn't:
  • Lack of time
  • Inadequate reimbursement by insurance
  • An unclear idea of how to define preventive medicine, or what kinds of preventive recommendations they should make.  
The study concluded that physicians need more training and education in disease prevention and health promotion.
Nearly 30 years later, it appears that nothing's changed. With an average of 15 minutes (if you're lucky) scheduled per patient, physicians still don't have time for much of anything but writing prescriptions and ordering tests
They're still limited to insurance incentives that pay for tests and treatments rather than disease prevention counseling. And they still are unable to define preventive care properly, because whether it's the Department of Health and Human Services or health care analysts, preventive care is still considered screening for diseases, rather than teaching patients how to prevent them.

Where Do Doctors Get Their Information From?

Prescription DrugsSo in the absence of time, money and preventive care recommendations, what doctors still do best is prescribe drugs – to the tune of an expected $880 billion in sales, worldwide in 2011. And where do you suppose they get the information to do all that prescribing?
Mostly, from the drug companies themselves.
That's right. Your doctor relies on drug company sales representatives – who work on commission– for information about what a drug is used for and what its adverse reactions might be.
The obvious problem with this is that when you're working on commission, you don't have a lot of incentive to kill sales with information on little things like side effects or disclosures that the only difference between the product you're selling and an old one is that the new one's got a higher price tag.
The fatal flaw with this system is two-fold. First, it assumes that physicians will take the time to read all the prescribing information about a drug before they give it to their patients. Second, it presumes that he will also keep up with any subsequent information, good or bad, that might come out about the drug later."
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Definition of What is Wrong with Healthcare: Prescriptions.

Data Source
Image via Wikipedia
"I was looking at a recent report that dispense as written prescriptions cost 7 billion dollars a year.  For those that don’t know (the healthy among us) dispense as written means that patients receive the patented, brand name drugs rather than the generics.
Let’s be clear, there are some minor variations.  But what is most likely is that the patients do not feel comfortable taking the generic drug.  It does affect how they react to it, because if you’re nervous taking something, you’re going to be more aware of side effects.
But the sheer cost of going with a brand versus a generic is staggering.  Who is footing the bill?  Us.

Prescriptions are the definition of what is wrong with healthcare in the U.S.  I cheered when they expanded prescription coverage for the elderly.  We all did.  Older patients on a fixed income shouldn’t have to decide between their medications and eating.
But I started thinking.  Where is that money going?  Not to the lovely people who live in my neighborhood.  They could do with an extra couple hundred dollars a month.  That money is going directly to the pharmaceutical industry. 
If they called it the:  “Hey, charge whatever you want.  U.S. taxpayers will pick up the tab,” legislation, I don’t think it would pass.
And we are saying that.  Charge whatever you want, whatever the “market” will bear.  But the consumer in this case doesn’t have to pay for what he or she receives.  So there is no upper limit.
I went to the store to pick up something for my son for a minor skin ailment.  It cost me nothing.  The bill to insurance?  $306.11.  Really?  If I had to pay that, I’d tell them to keep it.  The stuff is only worth about $20 to me, the same as if it were over the counter with all the other skin creams.  But because it’s patented and via prescription, they can charge that amount.
And why only $300?  Why not $3000?  That’s what they’re charging for chemotherapy drugs.  It’s what the market will bear, or what competitors are charging for similar products.
I understand that pharmaceutical companies have to do extensive research.  But I also know that the amount of research they do pales in comparison to the amount of advertising they do, and it also pales in comparison to their double digit returns to stockholders.
When the U.S. pays for basic research, do we charge the pharmaceutical industry for its use? 
When all the wonderful foundations sponsor research, do the drug companies turn around and give the patients a discount on medications?  No, it’s really a one way money stream.
I’m sorry, we need to start handing the prescription drug money directly to the people responsible for paying for it.  If you’d handed me $306.11 and said:  “either use this on this medication or any other way that would support your health,” I would have gone over and purchased the $20 over-the-counter stuff and a whole lot of groceries.
I wonder what my neighbors would do with their prescription money?  What if they just got to spend the difference between brands and generic?  I think it might make more of a difference to them than it does to the industry."
"Meanwhile, there's an ongoing discussion about which is more dangerous: alternative medicine or prescription drugs?
A recent survey led found four deaths between 2001 and 2003 that were associated with use of alternative treatments in Australia.
However, according to health and nutrition expert Dr. Gary Null, deaths associated with use of dietary supplements or alternative medicine are extremely rare compared to the death toll from the medical errors and prescription drugs.
Yet despite the well-documented dangers of prescription drugs and a painful recession, drug companies still represent the nation's third most profitable business sector in the U.S."

Stevie Nicks Confesses: Common Remedy Turned My Hair Gray and Molted My Skin...
Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks - Famed for her mystical chanteuse image, singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks enjoyed phenomenal success not only as a solo artist but also as a key member of Fleetwood Mac.
Nicks said: "Finally, in 1993, I'd had enough. I said, 'Take me to a hospital.' I went in for 47 days, and it made Betty Ford look like a cakewalk. My hair turned gray and my skin molted. I could hardly walk. You can detox off heroin in 12 days. Coke is just a mental detox. But tranquilizers -- they are dangerous. I was terrified to leave, and I came away knowing that that would never happen to me again."
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The good, bad of prescription drugs

"Frequently, patients come to Dr. Andrew Bohart and tell him what drug he needs to prescribe them.
Often they make the request after a self diagnosis based on Googled readings, pharmaceutical advertising and vague bodily symptoms.
While it can drive some doctors a bit nuts, Bohart uses it as an opportunity to discuss the good and the bad of prescription drugs. That's was also the title of his community education program Feb. 15 at BryanLGH Medical Center East.
Prescription drug marketing has changed the way we look at medication. While we have long been an "is-there-a-pill-for-that?" kind of culture, mass advertising and marketing have empowered patients to tell their doctors what drugs they need.
Sometimes, it's the right choice, Bohart said. But not always, which is why Bohart offered his class.
"Prescriptions are one tool in our medical toolbox to deal with illness and health issues," he said.
Often, the medications advertised on television, Internet pop-up ads and magazine pages are new to the market, which means they are much more expensive than their predecessor prescriptions and their generic cousins.
"Every $1 spent on a pharmaceutical advertising yields $4.20 in pharmaceutical sales," Bohart said. "Statistics show that if a patient asks for a medication by name, 70 percent of the time they will receive that prescription.
"Car salesmen would like those results."
National statistics show the average American receives more than 10 different prescriptions per year, Bohart said.
"Over $5 billion is spent annually on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescriptions," Bohart said. "The effect of that advertising can be problematic and lead to the use of prescriptions that may not be necessary."
The newest miracle drugs for depression, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, erectile dysfunction and birth control are not right for everyone. Doctors need to consider a person's medical history, other medications being taken, lifestyle and degree of illness when prescribing treatment, Bohart said."
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Aspirin a cheap-to-make miracle drug 
"Imagine a new drug that could reduce the likelihood of developing several life-threatening kinds of cancer. As a bonus, the same medication might dramatically lower the risk of having a heart attack. For good measure, this compound would perhaps help prevent a serious complication of pregnancy called pre-eclampsia.

If such a drug were to be discovered today, the manufacturer might well charge thousands of dollars a month for it. That’s how much drug companies are charging these days for their newest breakthroughs. In any event, it’s a safe bet it would be pricey.

You might be surprised to learn that there actually is such a drug, but it costs only pennies a day. It doesn’t get nearly as much attention as a brand-new drug would, perhaps because it is more than a hundred years old and available without a prescription. The drug is acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin."
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Aspirin: The cure-all in your medicine cabinet?

Memorial Hermann Hospital says:

"Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a pill that would reduce your risk of heart attack, cancer and stroke? Not only does that pill already exist, it’s probably sitting in your medicine cabinet. The latest medical breakthrough? It’s aspirin!

And there’s more. Preliminary studies have shown that aspirin boosts the body’s immune system and may reduce the risk of cataracts and other eye diseases. It's safe to say that more than 100 years after its introduction, aspirin’s true medical legacy is just being revealed.

» Help blood flow freely       » Get cancer protection        » Stop migraine pain       Is one a day for you?

(While no one doubts the health benefits of aspirin, if taken on a long-term basis it should be considered a prescription drug. So, before you start taking aspirin regularly, discuss it with your healthcare provider. Chronic use of aspirin has been linked to an increased risk of stomachaches, indigestion and ulcers. And aspirin may cause internal bleeding if taken with other blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin and coumadin.)"


Jay and I went into Conroe to buy more lumber for the cargo trailer, while Ray stayed here and titivated more on the cabinet doors. We had to cut some of off their width on the table saw to make them all line up properly, so those edges had to be tended to. I am glad we didn't put an ogee edge on them, and just kept it simple.

Now that the brown fridge has been replaced with the little white one, which was small enough to install under the closet, we are going back to Plan A, and needed lumber to build the dinette.  I might still have to buy some more plywood, but I have an idea so that we can re-use what we have. It is a pain to haul plywood in the van, as we have to leave the second seat at home, and still have the store cut some off the 8' length, so we can close the back hatch.

Speaking of my Aerostar van which I bought off eBay, I really got me a good one.  I have had it for over two years now, and it hasn't missed a beat.  I had to buy a new serpentine belt and some tires for it, but that is it.  As I had never had a minivan, I am glad that I did my homework looking at all the reviews of the different makes and models.

SAM_0894-1 As we had a little time and inclination we stopped at several thrift shops, and Jay bought an antique car music box made out of thin brass looking metal.  He is always buying knick knacks for his house.   I have enough dust-catchers, but I bought a baby/pet gate for $1, as there are times when I need another one. 

I found another deal on some Castor & Pollux canned dog food, thanks Gypsy for telling me about that brand, they love it. (No Corn, No Wheat, No Meat By-products, no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors). I had bought a few cans on sale at Petsmart, and I was glad to find some more, even cheaper, at Petco, so I stocked up.

The weather was lovely, even though we are still in a drought, and we enjoyed the day.

1 comment:

Dizzy-Dick said...

My doctor does not like to see me. I only take an inexpensive pill for my blood pressure and he will time and again OK a renew when the drug store calls him. The last time I saw him I blew up and really told him off. Told him all doctors are interested in is the money. They don't really care about the patient. He doen't like to see me anymore (grin) and that is fine with me.