Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Drug$ -The Price We Pay Film Thoughts

While everyone else is most likely sharing their goals and aspirations for 2019, I wanted to share some thoughts about a film I recently watched called

Drugs the Price We Pay film logo
Photo courtesy of Drug$- The Price We Pay

This is a documentary that describes the rising costs on life-saving pharmaceutical drugs. It includes real life families who are feeling the horrific choice of needing to being able to afford treatments to keep a family member alive with these overpriced prescriptions. How did I hear about it? I was flipping through Facebook and noticed there was a mention of one of my friends Aleasa Word as being a part of the documentary. Yes, epinephrine was included as one of the medicines but others were covered as well. For the sake of sticking to what I typically speak about, I encourage you to watch the film to hear about all of the mentions but I will be sharing specifically on my reaction to the epinephrine portion of the film.

While these drugs are necessary, they have skyrocketed in price (as we all know) but somehow hearing actual numbers kind of makes me stop in my tracks. I am not saying I wasn't paying attention when the whole EpiPen saga exploded because I was, I was entrenched in it. What tugged at my heartstrings were the same facts presented in a different light.

The first wake up moment "1 out of 5  Americans cannot afford the medicine that they need. They go to the doctor, the doctor writes the prescription but they can't afford to fill it. But five major companies make 50 million dollars in profits." - Bernie Sanders.
These numbers are even less than those diagnosed with food allergies. This while we wonder why so many are walking around without epinephrine, without being prepared, knowing that they may die if they have an allergic reaction and do not have that medication with them when they need it. Look around you right now- who is next to you? Is it your child, your parent, children from school or even yourself. Chances are one of you could face a life-threatening situation or even worse, death due to the cost not having the medication that you need. A medication that (most) of the time, costs so very little to make. How can anyone put a price on a person's life?

epipen in thigh can't breath
Screenshot from Drug$ - The Price We Pay
The second wake up moment Around the 7 minute factor, a scene shows a woman gasping for breath, reaching for an EpiPen. (Knock on wood) we have never used epinephrine on NutriSon. We came very, very close once or twice but we never did. With severe vigilance, strict rules about food, socializing and anything else where food is part of the situation, we have been lucky so far. As a food allergy mother, I watched this woman who was a part of the film and tears began to fill my eyes. Although I don't know her, I felt as if I was watching my own child not being able to breath. I heard her lungs trying desperately to find the air they needed and it terrified me. I paused the film, red eyes and gross, snotty nose and I went upstairs to have my son watch it too. He's seventeen and probably rolled his eyes at me when I banged on his door, telling him to stop what he was doing to watch it. But when it was done, I looked at him and cried and all that I could say to him was "I never, ever want you to have to feel that." No one should.

The third wake up moment A reshare of video footage during the EpiPen price hike trial. Heather Bresch of Mylan, Inc. was asked what she made for the year and her response was "$18 million dollars". Now, it took me a moment to process this. Because the business side of me kept saying marketing costs, pr, development, etc. so maybe, maybe that makes sense? But then the other side of my brain flipped it and my jaw dropped open. This, this is what was echoing through my head for days afterwords:

Let's say the EpiPens were actually $600 (really? We aren't stupid but let's just play along)
$600 per EpiPen Twin Pack
19 Million dollars a year (just for 1 year)
19 Million dollars = 31,000+ EpiPens
I repeat
19 Million dollars = 31,000+ EpiPens 

Essentially, one person has the power to save over 31,000 lives a year (if not more!) but chooses not too. She seems to be ok with this. I am not.

She could literally live very comfortably on just one year's salary and choose to use the rest to save people. Am I judging? Yes. That's a hard yes. Do I know her, do I know what her personal situation is that may require her to have that salary? No. Do I know if she worked for years upon years and deserves that salary from all of her dedication? No. But in my eyes, none of that matters. At the end of the day, she won't be remembered for saving lives, she will be remembered for endangering them.

hives anaphylaxis food allergy reaction
Original photo from AllergyPhoods

This article is not meant as a bitchfest and it's certainly not meant to go after Heather Bresch personally- she just happened to be the one in the film who's numbers made my thoughts jump into action. You see, I am true to my word with everything and everyone, always. Because if I am not, people will not be able to respect me or trust my word. As silly as it sounds in this day and age, I also believe and expect others around me to be the same way. When I see scenarios like this, where a person could be helping versus harming, I cannot understand why that person would choose not to help. This is not meant as a violent or angry post but as a share, asking others to wake up and be a part of the solution. Let your voice me heard because if you don't, you will never know if you might have been the one to make a change. Stand up for what you believe, even when other people may not think that what you are doing is the right thing. Prove them wrong.

This film needs to be watched and shared. Patient empowerment can become a superpower for those who need to understand the facts. Most of the time, trying to listen to a description of how the pharmaceutical world works can make our thoughts clouded and our head go numb. The importance of knowing what is going on- the difference of those who go without what they need and those who decide to ask why they are being given a life-saving prescription without a choice to be able to use it.

drugs the movie at theaters
Photo courtesy of Drug$ - The Price We Pay
You can find out about  Drug$ - The Price We Pay and view on the web or on YouTube or Amazon Prime as well as follow along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


I was not compensated in any way to share my thoughts about this film. As with any other review, my thoughts and opinions are always honest and my own.