You May be Getting Ripped Off; Someone Else is Dying

Rarely will I ask readers to forward one of my posts, but I’m making an exception with this one. Please, please read it and the stories linked to it, then forward this to as many people as you can…or post to Facebook, Twitter, or what have you. Read on and I think you’ll understand why.  I expect others will feel the rage I feel. And I want the healthcare industry, but today especially the pharmaceutical industry, to feel the unchecked wrath of people who’ve had enough!

An email message I received yesterday from one of my brothers resurrected the rage I felt a few months ago and then again late last December.  He wrote about, and shared a link to an article about price-gouging among pharmacies in Houston; the only reliably reasonably-priced prescription drugs were found at Costco.  Other pharmacies charged obscene amounts for the same drugs.  As I said, reading his message and the article gave new life to my rage.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece about my experience getting ripped off by Tom Thumb pharmacy. The outcome, for me, was all right, because I got my prescription at a decent price from Costco; and Tom Thumb reluctantly agreed to refund the obscene price difference for the prescription I had first purchased there.

Then, the evening of December 23, I watched a PBS program, first aired November 2, 2013, that revealed my experience was not at all rare. In fact, it was not particularly egregious compared to the experience of others who were presented with ridiculously inflated prices for generic prescriptions for drugs for cancer, bi-polar disorder, and other such serious problems. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of the show, showing the costs from several pharmacies for the same generic drug, a drug prescribed, in this case, for a woman being treated for breast cancer:

Hi.  I’d like to find out– what the retail price is for a 30-day supply of a generic drug called Letrozole?

Sot: $11.04
Sot: $29.88.
Sot: $45.99.
Sot: $364.99
Sot: ooh, I didn’t realize it was that much.  It’s– $435.
Sot: $455.

Tom Sengupta, an independent pharmacist interviewed for the program, expressed outrage at the price-gouging of pharmacies that charge wildly exorbitant prices for drugs; “How could you justify that?  You know?  If you had any morality – we don’t need to make money like that.  We have to ask, what’s happening?  Where is their moral compass?

Indeed, where is their moral compass?

As the final days of the introductory sign-ups for what I once considered a shining example of goodness in American healthcare came to an end, I asked the same question: where is the moral compass of the insurance company executives, the healthcare executives, the hospitals, and the backroom greed-mongers who use our need for healthcare as an excuse to brazenly steal from us?

The abuses revealed during this PBS special call for harsh responses.  This is not a time for pussyfooting around, taking no bold action to force corporations to reign in prices.  This is not the time to fear that someone will call foul by saying “this is a free country–if the prices are too high for somebody, they are free buy their drugs elsewhere!”  To which I would respond, “Bullshit!” You shouldn’t have to shop around for prescription drugs the way you shop for a Porsche, especially when battling a life-threatening disease!

I am beyond angry at this stuff.  I am livid.

The price-gouging revealed during the PBS program is equivalent to that which occurs after horrific hurricanes or tornadoes; invariably, a person whose greed far outweighs his humanity tries to charge astronomical prices for water, ice, or other necessities.  In every case in which morality prevails, the price-gouger is stopped and his product is distributed without cost to the people who need it.

Maybe that’s how the pharmaceutical industry, including chain and corporate pharmacies, should be treated.

Get angry. Make your rage matter. Write a letter to your Senator or Congressional representative about this stuff.

Or let me know if I’m alone in my outrage.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to You May be Getting Ripped Off; Someone Else is Dying

  1. REVOLUTION, indeed, Robin!

  2. robin andrea says:

    You are not alone in your outrage. Everything about our health care “industry” is outrageous. I like your analogy that shopping for a life-saving drug is not like shopping for a Porsche. True for me, true for you, true for most people we know. Not true for the CEO of a drug company who wants a garage full of Porsches. We need single-payer health care and not-for-profit drug industry. REVOLUTION.

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