Big Pharma Makes Big Losers Out of Us All

Big Pharma Makes Big Losers Out of Us All

My jaw dropped when my pharmacist told me the price and I stupidly asked how that was even possible. He shrugged and told me it was just business.

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It's a story many of us are familiar enough with. The second puberty struck me, I began my battle with acne. It was nothing serious — like most young girls, I would get the occasional offensive pimple every now and then and I would think it was the end of the world. I ran through a number of different over-the-counter face washes, which are all formulated to make your skin dependent on them (and irritate your acne further) so I never truly had clear skin.

Until I found the Clinique Acne Solutions kit. My skin was practically flawless for a couple of months until I had a horrible reaction and I suffered from cystic acne all over my face for the first (and thankfully last) time in my life. I was miserable and finally made an appointment with a dermatologist, which was what I should've done in the first place. I was placed on a cycle of different medications to control hormones and sent to the pharmacy to pick up Epiduo, a retinol that saved my skin. It took half a year but my skin was finally tamed and smoothing itself out to the point where I no longer had to worry about breakouts except for when my time of the month threw my hormones all out of whack.

Recently, my insurance refused to cover some of my medications, including Epiduo, with the refuting claim that an over-the-counter gel with one (yes, ONLY one) similar ingredient is now available. I've searched for this alternative medication for months and believe me, it's almost non-existent where I'm at. Furthermore, I've asked a dermatologist about this particular product and she didn't sugarcoat her words when she told me that it was basically useless and would do nothing for my skin compared to how Epiduo helped me.

Without insurance covering Epiduo, the retail cost skyrocketed from a measly $15 to almost upwards of $400. My jaw dropped when my pharmacist told me the price and I stupidly asked how that was even possible. He shrugged and told me it was just business. I went home, both anxious about how I would treat my skin and infuriated about how a system could just leave its clients empty-handed and scrambling.

I did a little research, and while what I learned wasn't really surprising, it definitely sickened me. Most of the insurance companies are in league with pharmaceutical companies, and not solely for the purpose of offering "discounts" on medication, but to promote largely ineffective "over-the-counter" alternatives. Let's take a product like Epiduo for example. While it might be sold for $400, it might've only taken $3 to actually produce. Insurance will cover this medication only with a prescription and only if they can't shove an "alternative" in your hands instead. You'll be given a discount and end up paying only $15 instead of the $400 —generous, but still an outrageous upcharge.

Now, let's say there's now an alternative. Chances are that buying this new product over the counter will cost you more than buying your original medication while it was covered by insurance, but it will be nowhere near the outrageous high retail amount they're asking you to pay. So you shell out $25 instead for a weaker, diluted version of the medication you actually need, feeding these companies with more profit and leaving you, the consumer, with the short end of the stick — all part of a large-scale robbery.

Instead of frantically searching for alternatives that would possibly worsen my skin, I've been using products that are all-natural or mostly natural to avoid bad reactions while I wait for a better option to roll around. Going all-natural has actually improved my skin significantly, and while I'm excited by the results I'm still hoping for my dermatologist to recommend another miracle cream to save my skin that my insurance could cover.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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The Truth About Narcan, Insulin, And Who Pays For What

"Stupid junkies, I have to pay for my Insulin but they get Narcan FOR FREE. Can you believe that?"

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Naloxone.

Let's talk about it. Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan or Evzio is a "medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose." According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Naloxone basically reverses the effects of an overdose.

As you see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every other social media platform in the world, "junkies" get indirectly bashed, undermined, and in a nutshell, told that they don't deserve a place on earth.

The most common argument used by "non-addicts" is "I have to pay for my Insulin for my diabetes, but they get Narcan for free? Wow, our government sucks and the system is a joke."

For those of you that don't know, diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to produce or respond to the hormone, insulin, is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

There are two types of this disease: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes that result from a variety of different factors. Diabetes can be acquired through genetics but can also be personally obtained through lifestyle, depending on the type. Aside from genetics and being born into a diabetic family, you may also be diagnosed with diabetes as a result of physical inactivity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and being overweight. In other words, if you let your body go, don't work out or do some type of physical activity, let your high blood pressure go untreated, and eat unhealthy foods; you have a chance of developing diabetes.

Next, let's talk about prices.

On average, Insulin costs $200 monthly. This depends on the brand, personal insurance, coupons, and other factors such as organizations that help people get cheaper insulin.

Narcan nasal spray costs $130 for a two-time use. You can buy it at CVS Pharmacy (and other pharmacies) in states such as Ohio, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. Some of these states may require a prescription.

Now that you know that Narcan/Evzio isn't free, it's time to talk about other charges that are brought upon addicts when they overdose. If an ambulance is called, they have to pay for it. If they are sent to the emergency room, they also have to pay for that.

The idea that "junkies" get Narcan for free is something society has made up to make drug users feel even more guilt than they already do from having an addiction alone.

Believe it or not, most of us are addicted to something that can be fatal or cause illness/injury. If you eat processed foods or sugar ridden foods every day, chances are you have an addiction to sugar. The withdrawal that someone has from quitting sugar is similar to the withdrawal that one goes through from quitting heroin. You get a splitting headache, you have cold sweats, you are moody, and it makes you sick. If you drink coffee all day on most days and you try to quit, it results in an awful headache for a few days. The addiction to cigarettes and the withdrawal that people go through for that speaks for itself; we all know a smoker or an ex-smoker.

Instead of following social norms, degrading drug users and putting ourselves on a pedestal because we don't use heroin or another "hard drug," we should advocate for the health and stand up for each other. If you see someone on the street that you know is a drug user, pull them aside and pray with them. Help them find a better life. Recommend church, rehab, or any other ideas that may be at your fingertips to mention.

The moral of the story is this: we all have an addiction, hypocrisy is at it's finest thanks to social media, and we are all human. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you judge them. It doesn't cost a dime to shed light on someone's life, especially when they are in need.

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