Posts Tagged ‘prescription drugs’

As the famous quote from All the President’s Men goes, “Follow the money.”

In this case, that’s all you need to do to immediately realize that Trump’s supposed plan to lower prescription drug costs is total bullshit: When Trump announced he had a plan to lower those costs, pharmaceutical stocks plummeted. When he announced the details, they immediately spiked. Pharmaceutical stocks finished higher on the day than at the start.

That makes sense when you realize that Trump proposed nothing that would have much of an effect on prices. His plan consists of wonkish tweaks┬áthat won’t touch the basic problems.

What, you ask, would? Here are the top four things that would help. Of course, none of these are in Trump’s vaunted plan:

  • Allow Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies on prices. When the Republicans passed the Part D law (which took effect in 2006), they specifically forbade Medicare from negotiating prices. This giveaway to big pharma has cost Medicare and Medicare recipients (responsible for co-pays) billions of dollars, probably tens of billions, since then.
  • Allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies. Prices are much lower there and the drugs are exactly the same.
  • Have the Justice Department apply anti-trust laws to big pharma. In recent years, generic drug prices have skyrocketed at the same time that the big pharmaceutical companies have been buying up generic drug producers. The drugs haven’t changed, but the prices have, as has the concentration of drug-producer ownership.
  • Outlaw “pay to delay” collusion. At present, it’s common for the big pharmaceutical companies that have drugs on which the patents are expiring to bribe generic drug producers to delay introduction of generic alternatives. These payments for delays of a year or two often run into the tens of millions of dollars. Forbid this exercise in sleaze, and drug prices would drop.

So, why did Trump trumpet his bogus plan to reduce drug prices? Like all con men, he’s in it for the short term. He realizes that his brain dead followers will buy this obvious bullshit from the Dear Leader, and won’t notice by the time of the fall elections that it’s having no effect whatsoever on the ever-increasing prices they pay for prescription drugs. When they eventually do notice it, he’ll haul out scapegoats — my guess, penniless Mexican immigrants and Satan — and the goose-steppers licking the Glorious Leader’s boots will buy that, too.

Three weeks ago, I started to emerge from the ooze of addiction to prescription drugs. I’ve had chronic insomnia for two decades, and for almost that entire time have been taking more and more prescription Ambien (zolpidem). I tried to quit it a few times, but invariably I’d go 48+ hours without sleep, would say “fuck it, I can’t stand it,” and was back on it.

The symptoms were ever worse. Toward the end, the last two or three years, I was having severe memory and cognition problems, was irritable as hell, and had ever-worsening depression and fatigue. I thought of all this as normal. Couldn’t remember damn near anything else. I even wrote embarrassing blog posts that I ┬ádeleted the next morning, without ever having remembered posting them — got up, read ’em, and went, “Did I post that? What the fuck was I thinking?” — before deleting them; you might have read a few.

I was like the frog in the pot. I just didn’t notice how awful things were getting until about three weeks ago, when I finally thought, “Well, I’ll probably die within the next couple of years; that’s fine. I feel so miserable it’d be a relief. Time to end it.”

That was the wake-up call. The thought that death might be welcome. The total self-involvement, self-indulgence. I was disgusted with myself.

I’ve always had severe judgments against those who commit suicide unless they were in chronic pain (the ultimate “fuck you” message to survivors, the ultimate “I don’t give a shit about how you feel, it’s all about me” message to those who love them — yes, I’ve experienced that) and realized I might do the same self-indulgent, self-destructive bullshit to hurt those who loved me.

No thanks. I might be an asshole, but I’m not that kind of asshole.

So, I went to the doc, got a prescription for another sleep med I’ve used only sparingly the last few weeks, and am doing everything I can to get away from sleep meds entirely.

It’s working. A lot of nights I don’t use anything except aspirin and medical pot for pain, even though I only sleep three or four hours.

It’s an improvement. A big improvement.

Goodbye Ambien, hello life. (Iggy Pop “Trainspotting” music — “Lust for Life” — here).

I feel like I’m emerging from a shroud, coming up from the bottom of a deep pool.

If you’re taking Ambien because of chronic insomnia, there are better alternatives to it, and it might kill you if you don’t get off it. It almost killed me.