Archive for December, 2011

Funny Pharms

Excuse my logic but why is it that a package of three condoms costs between $5 and $6 yet you can buy a bag of 50 balloons at the dollar store for $.99?  Oh I get it, it’s the latex.  Now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll get right into the meat of the matter and it does relate to those aforementioned overpriced condoms.

Prescription drug and medical supply prices are forever climbing.  I remember several years back I was prescribed Imitrex for my daily migraine headaches.  When I saw the price my headaches got worse!  $16 per tablet!  My insurance wouldn’t cover this medication and as such I was forced to seek alternate remedies.  Now it is true that you can get lower priced generics for this medication but their overall potency may be called into question.  Furthermore some companies are even selling the generics for $10 a tablet.  Imagine that we’re asked to pay $10 for a little dose of chemicals that doesn’t even weigh a gram. It is sinful.

Just as an aside, I currently take another medication for other issues and it costs a whopping $18 per tablet.  People who rely on year round doses of medication for such conditions as diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, etc. know first hand how expensive medicines can be.

Then pause and consider the actions (or actually lack of action) on the part of the large pharmaceutical companies concerning the “cocktail” they possess that can help AIDS patients to survive.  Some of the larger pharmaceutical companies, given their vast resources have the ability to save millions of Africans and other peoples if they would make the low cost AIDS fighting cocktail available to these people.  It has been proven that AIDS sufferers can extend their lives many years by use of this cocktail.  If the Big Pharm companies were to work with our government they could probably even write off such a gesture as a humanitarian exercise.  However, there’s no actual profit to be realized in such charity so the AIDS drug stays on the shelf and less fortunate people are forgotten and left to suffer a wretched existence.

There are a variety of dynamics at work in the ever changing world of prescription drugs.  For starters I have been told by some people in the business that in this day in age, many doctors get a commission from the pharmaceutical companies for every prescription that they write for a drug that the pharmaceutical company sells.  As such it is prudent for someone suffering from an illness, whatever that illness might be to read up on the recommended course of treatment. In short, when doctors can expect commissions for writing prescriptions they may be trigger happy and start writing you out prescriptions for meds that you don’t even need.  This is not meant to be an indictment of all doctors – many are still caring and honest – but as in any profession, there can be unscrupulous players.  As such you may be spending more and more on drugs that you don’t even need.  The only way to be sure you are not being pumped full of unnecessary drugs is to do your own research.

There seems to be a pill for everything

 

As well, the reason I believe that there are doctors on the pharmacy company payrolls is based on something I witnessed some years ago when I would sit waiting to be seen by my doctor.  I would wait incredibly, sometimes two hours past my appointment time to be seen by him.  During that interval of time, it seemed like a virtual parade of guys in suits would filter through his office.  They were all pharmaceutical sales reps. Judging by the quality of the clothes they wore, they were all getting quite rich.  And samples?  This doctor had the equivalent of a large walk in closet worth of sample doses of hundreds of different medications.  It looked like a Walmart for prescription drugs.

I am also told that many of today’s pharmaceutical company reps are young attractive women.  Would a person go to Hooters if the waitresses weren’t attractive? Same holds true in this biz.  Even analytical well trained doctors can be influenced by a nice pair of legs.   

I’d like to conclude this blog with a theory I have about the pharmaceutical industry. 

We as a society (and I mean the worldwide society, not just the United States) are enamored by the idea that we can pop a pill, gulp down some water and presto-change-o, our symptoms will go away.  Somehow, it is so much easier to pop a pill than it is to do yoga or exercise, plan a healthy diet, or quit drinking and smoking.  If you were to try and calculate just how many pills the human race takes on just a single day, the figure would be off the charts.   The Big Pharmaceutical companies love this. You never read much in the mainstream media about pharmaceutical companies’ earnings.  I think they try to keep it hush-hush. I believe if the public ever knew the staggering profits these companies were reaping there would be a massive outcry for reform of the system as it is now.  I believe some of the big pharmaceutical companies have earnings that would even dwarf those of IBM or Microsoft.

Now that this is all said and done, I think I’ll take a tranquilizer.

 

Copyright 2011; Greg S.

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Driving Miss Crazy

Excuse my logic but the more time I spend driving, the more I believe it is high time that our government puts into place periodic road testing for all drivers, regardless of age.  I will admit that when I sat down to write this blog, my original intention was to focus on the dangers of allowing extremely elderly people to drive.  I had planned to suggest mandatory testing of senior citizens every two years to monitor their driving skills.  Of all age groups, their driving aptitude may be the most suspect.  However seniors aren’t the only people who need a reality check when it comes to driving ability.

I found it encouraging  just the other day to read in North New Jersey’s Bergen Record that a new law is being  proposed to the state Assembly that would give our state one of the “strictest teen driver safety programs in the nation.” Under this law, new teenage permit holders would be required to log a minimum of 50 driving hours in addition to 6 hours of driving under a driver training professional.  Teens who opt not to receive the 6 hours of professional training would have to log 100 hours of practice driving before being eligible to take their road test.

This is all fine and good and kudos to the New Jersey Assembly Transportation Committee for recognizing the need to better prepare drivers.  I think overall, most states probably do an adequate or better job of preparing young people to become safe drivers.

However, I disagree with an assessment in the Bergen Record article that teenagers are the highest risk drivers.  People who have held driving licenses for 30, 40 or more years I believe can regress into what I like to call an “old shoe” syndrome.  In many cases, no one is watching over them and as time goes by, their skills begin to diminish.  Like an old shoe that is just so comfortable that you never want to throw it out even though it is no longer functional, people who have been driving for a decade or decades can be dysfunctional when on today’s fast paced roads and highways.

"Look Ma, No Hands!"

 

As I said, my commentary here is not limited to older people.  Now for some anecdotes.

I remember seeing a young person turn left out of a Wendy’s parking lot onto busy NJ Highway 4.  There was only one problem with this.  The end result was he was driving west bound on the eastbound lanes of the highway.  It is amazing to me that with three busy lanes of fast moving traffic that morning no one got killed.  Divine Providence perhaps, but whatever the case, this driver’s skills are definitely dubious.

On another occasion my wife and I were being driven home by a friend of mine in his early 40s, and originally not from this country. We were travelling North on the Garden State Parkway.  There was heavy but fast moving traffic.  He wanted to exit left off the one way lanes onto Route 19. He was in the center lane and no one was letting him into the left lane.  So my friend did the unthinkable. He simply stopped dead in the center lane to make his point that he wasn’t going to miss that exit even if it killed all of us!  Again, my friend needs to take a refresher course. Or two.

Years ago, while I was a sophomore in high school, one of my schoolmate’s mothers would pick us up after school.  She was not old.  Early middle aged.  She had the crazy habit while driving that when she wanted to talk to someone sitting in the back seat, she would turn her head around to look at them, all the while continuing to drive.  We always told this woman to turn around and keep her eyes on the road.  She never heeded our advice until one day she plowed into the steel guardrail of a bridge.  Fortunately no one was injured.

Thus far, we’ve directed our attention to young and middle aged drivers.  Now consider this rather bizarre occurrence that was related to me by the perpetrator’s son.  It is this incident from which the title of this blog came. This woman, in her late 80s, was pulling out of a parking space at the supermarket.  She backed straight into the side of a passing car.  The police were called, an accident report was written up and then the parties to the accident were told they could leave.  This woman got in her car and backed up out of the space again.  In case you haven’t guessed the outcome, she plowed smack into the same car a second time!  Talk about déjà vu!

I also had a beloved uncle who had been victimized by a stroke.  He walked using a cane, and his reflexes were next to nothing.  I always told the older members of our family that he should be relieved of his car keys but no one ever did so.  One day he was out driving and I don’t know exactly what happened but he had an accident.  The police officer walked up to his car and asked for his license, registration, etc.  My uncle was talking at that point according to the account I was given.  By the time the police officer returned to my uncle’s side he could no longer speak.  Apparently he suffered another stroke, either before the accident or perhaps as a result of the accident. He was dead two days later.

Driving should be considered a privilege, not a right. A car in the wrong hands can be a more dangerous weapon than the handguns most of us call to outlaw.

I, for one, would not object to being road tested every two years and I am 54 years old, supposedly in the “prime” of my life.

Let’s consider periodic testing for drivers of all ages.  Sure it will be a costly endeavor, but aren’t our lives and those of our loved ones worth it?

 

Copyright 2011; Greg S.    

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