I saw a patient today who was a school bus driver -- has been driving school bus for many years. We really need people like her who really care about kids. Somehow, without me bringing it up at all, she brought up that her boyfriend had to buy and EpiPen and even with insurance it was outrageously expense at $450 out of pocket. He has a severe bee sting allergy and his face and head swell up really badly. When I told her the actual medicine only costs about $1 her jaw dropped open and she about fell on the floor. She sputtered and couldn't believe it. She got angry.
Then she asked about all the kids on her bus with peanut allergies and similar. She realized that they needed to carry similar medicine for their potentially life-threatening allergies. And she was outraged that each and every one of them would be forced to pay $400-600 for $1 worth of medicine. I am outraged too!
Calling all school bus drivers! Spread the word! What if all the school bus drivers across the country took to social media to actually do something about this drug company hostage situation and spread the word about the PEpi Project to get affordable Epi to those who need it. What a difference that would make! I hope this particular driver finds this post and spreads it far and wide. :)
Called another major compounding pharmacy yesterday and discussed options with them. I was shocked to learn that it is illegal for them to create a prescription for someone if it competes with a commercial product in the market -- even for generic medications. It is illegal for them to put a properly prescribed dose of life-saving epinephrine in a syringe ready-to-go and dispense it to a patient because there is a commercial product in the market that has the same dose of epinephrine in it. !?!?
I can understand the rationale for making sure products are monitored and are of consistent high quality. But this situation is far from one of protecting people. In essence, the FDA is keeping reasonable, affordable solutions out of the hands of patients that need them to not die. Unless patients pay extortionist prices that are the envy of the mafia.
In case we haven't really been thinking about what is actually happening, when people talk about the "market" taking care of itself and these are just market forces, it is a scam. This is not a functioning marketplace. This is monopolistic extortion and hostage-taking. What would a real marketplace look like? There would be multiple reasonable choices that encourage quality and limit cost. Obviously we don't have that. Don't let anyone sell you that bill of goods ever again about the pharmaceutical industry and the "marketplace" in America.
Many people don't know what a "compounding pharmacy" is. They are basically pharmacies that still are able to customize medications like pharmacies all originally did. Your typical pharmacy today just takes pills from big bottles and puts them in little bottles and puts your label on the little bottle. A compounding pharmacy actually makes pills, potions, lotions, IVs, etc custom for an individual patient. It makes almost anything possible. They are pretty cool!
I called and spoke with a compounding pharmacy that I use for my patients. "What options are there for alternatives to EpiPens?", was my question. The pharmacist ran through several options, none of them really practical for the typical patient.
I am still confident that compounding pharmacies would be able to create viable options with the right pharmacy and some time and energy.
Please share this request with others and compounding pharmacies in general and ask them to post their suggestions, or contact us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Compounding pharmacies can help us come up with affordable options for the short term, while we work on more polished options for the long term.
I have decided to blog this project.
This is about people -- us. Our health. And us as people collectively taking back our health and our healthcare.
This is about building the pathways and the confidence to change things. Doing things together for the right reasons -- to help each other.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016. I decided to do something about the egregious, outrageous hostage situation in America -- the EpiPen debacle.
Millions of Americans are being held hostage to corporate greed of an unprecedented scale in U.S. history. Life-saving medication is being withheld for ransom. Last I checked, the U.S. doesn't pay ransom to terrorists.