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The cost of asthma inhalers in the United States compared to other countries

October 29, 2018 | By | Reply More

I’m traveling abroad, a trip centered on teaching law school for a week in Istanbul. On the way out of the U.S., I had an asthma attack while walking through the perfume area of a Duty Free store in Atlanta. I had an inhaler, but it was getting low (my inhaler is the red Albuterol inhaler on the left. It costs about $70 or $80 WITH the insurance price. My first stop overseas was in Beirut, Lebanon, where I entered a pharmacy without a prescription. They didn’t have Albuterol but the pharmacist sold me the Lebanese equivalent called Salres. Total price was $5. When I arrived at Istanbul Turkey, I visited a pharmacy and paid less than $2 for their equivalent, “Butalin,” the one in the middle Again, no prescription needed, and the pharmacist assured me that this was an equivalent prescription.

I am now in Madrid. Yesterday, I visited a pharmacy here, no prescription, and they sold me the “equivalent,” the inhaler on the right. Price was 2.5 Euros (about $2.85). I spoke with the pharmacist in Spanish. I told her that in the United States, my inhaler costs about $80 with the insurance rate, $300 without. Her immediate reaction was shock at the price. The she became angry, and asked “What do children do when their families cannot afford the medicine?” I told her that I don’t know, and that it is a terrible situation and that there is no excuse for it.

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Homeopathic Emergency Room

August 10, 2017 | By | Reply More

Mitchell and Webb take a look at Homeopathic in the ER:

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In Light of the GOP’s new Health Care Proposal, it’s Time to Rename the GOP as the “Social Darwinist Party.”

March 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

In light of the GOP’s “solution” to the “problem” of Obamacare, it’s time to simply and clearly declare that the GOP has become (and should be renamed) the “Social Darwinist Party.”

Addressing the cries of the Super Rich (“I want even more money”) is no solution at all to the medical crises many of us face. I realize and recognize the frustration of the GOP that people who are lazy and/or who repeatedly make bad decisions resulting in being poor should not be able to mooch off the rest of us. But what about those who have worked hard and have been laid off by downsizing, and now earn $10/hour? What about people who are doing their best after being raised by dysfunctional families and/or “taught” at dysfunctional schools? Should they really be told that health care is totally out of their reach?

I’m lucky that I am a 60 year old man who can afford to pay the market rate of $900/month for a $6,000 deductible (“Bronze”) health care policy with Anthem for me and my teenage daughter. It was the best deal I could find this year.

But there are good hearted hard-working people who are paid minimum wage, meaning that they gross about $1,500 a month for full time work. After Social Security taxes, if they were to pay $900/month for health insurance (and then all the co-pays and deductible) they would have NOTHING left on which to live. NOTHING.

The GOP solution, I assume, is to have these people (many of whom voted for Trump) begging for health care at hospital doors, with many of them eventually dying in the streets. Is the GOP then going offer block grants to cities to help clean up the bodies of sick and dying people on the sides of streets?

Obamacare was an flawed attempt to balance the many competing interests at play. But it was an attempt. It was far better than the GOP proposal, which is essentially, “If you can’t come up with a LOT more money than minimum wage will pay you, then into society’s scrap heap you go!”

We can do better than Obamacare. We can do a LOT better than the current GOP proposal. It’s time for single payor, a solution used by almost every other industrialized country.

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Funny or Die video exposes Planned Parenthood

August 17, 2015 | By | Reply More

If you want to know the details of what Planned Parenthood does, this video from Funny of Die doesn’t mince words:

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About your surgeon. Propublica offers a database to compare excellence

July 19, 2015 | By | Reply More

This article, “Making the Cut,” could affect your life or the life of someone you know. The article offers its database so you can compare the complication rates of surgeons regarding common elective surgeries.

“About 63,000 Medicare patients suffered serious harm, and 3,405 died after going in for procedures widely seen as straightforward and low risk. Taxpayers paid hospitals $645 million for the readmissions alone.”

“A small share of doctors, 11 percent, accounted for about 25 percent of the complications. Hundreds of surgeons across the country had rates double and triple the national average. Every day, surgeons with the highest complication rates in our analysis are performing operations in hospitals nationwide.

Subpar performers work even at academic medical centers considered among the nation’s best. A surgeon with one of the nation’s highest complication rates for prostate removals in our analysis operates at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, a national powerhouse known for its research on patient safety. He alone had more complications than all 10 of his colleagues combined — though they performed nine times as many of the same procedures.”

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John Oliver describes Big Pharma marketing to doctors and patients

February 9, 2015 | By | Reply More

John Oliver describes Big Pharma marketing to doctors and patients

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Double standard regarding drugs

August 3, 2014 | By | Reply More

Marijuana is constantly attacked by many politicians, even though use by adults (use by children is a different story) rarely if ever results in a visit to the hospital. This makes me conclude that the problem with marijuana is that users and producers need more expensive lobbyists. I write this based on an eye-popping article on the well-established dangers of LEGAL drugs in the September 2014 edition of Consumer Reports. Here’s an excerpt:

OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin–prescription narcotics . . . can be as addictive as heroin and are rife with deadly side effects. Use of those and other opioids has skyrocketed in recent years. … 46 people per day, or almost 17,000 people per year, die from overdoses of the drugs. That’s up more than 400 percent from 1999. And for every death, more than 30 people are admitted to the emergency room because of opioid complications. With numbers like that, you would think that the Food and Drug Administration would do all it could to reverse the trend. But against the recommendation of its own panel of expert advisers, last December the agency approved Zohydro ER, a long-acting version of hydrocodone.

Almost as dangerous is a medication renowned for its safety: acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic). Almost 80,000 people per year are treated in emergency rooms because they have taken too much of it, and the drug is now the most common cause of liver failure in this country.

If lawmakers put all drugs under the same scrutiny as far as safety, it would turn the drug world upside down.

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Anti-Anti-Vaxxers

June 19, 2014 | By | Reply More

Vincent Iannelli, M.D., offers this thrashing of the anti-vaccine mentality:

This guide to the 50 most common anti-vaccine myths and misinformation will help you understand that vaccines are safe, are necessary, and that getting your kids vaccinated and fully protected against each and every vaccine-preventable disease is the right decision to make.

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The promise of fecal transplants

May 28, 2014 | By | Reply More

Some patients are having astounding success with fecal transplants, and a DIY community is growing. BBC reports:

There is growing recognition that faecal transplant is the best way to treat [some] patients. In the first randomised trial of the technique published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, 94% of patients were cured by the treatment, whereas a course of antibiotics cured just 27%. The disparity was so huge that the researchers stopped the trial early, on the grounds that it was unethical to deny the better cure to the cohort assigned antibiotics.

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