I haven’t read the book Bad Pharma yet (as mentioned on Boing Boing) although it’s on my wishlist. The linked article makes me want to read it sooner rather than later though I suspect it’s going to raise my blood pressure pretty quickly.
Any of you who have been “healthy your whole lives” (no matter it you’re 25 or 75) or haven’t had to care for someone with health problems can’t relate to the cesspool of stupidity that is health care. We’ve only dipped a toe in and that’s bad enough.
I and my wife are extremely lucky that we:
- Are reasonably well off. We’ve never had to do without something we truly needed.
- Live in an area with exceptional health care facilities available close by or within a 30 minute drive.
- Have decent insurance through my employer.
- Started having health issues only after we’d worked long enough to save up a cushion that can offset what insurance won’t pay (so far anyway).
Still, we see all the charges that are sent to the insurance company and we are regularly floored by both the high and low costs that fly by. Some by the fact that something which seems like a procedure that should be expensive isn’t and some that take moments cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
I’ve also wondered how often it’s the case the drugs we’ve been given over the last few years aren’t necessary or useful. They haven’t harmed us as far as we know. Well, Susan’s have, but that’s what chemo does. It’s a regimen that tries to kill the cancer faster than it kills the rest of the body. In most cases the drugs seem to have helped but when the only way to know is to not take them and maybe get sicker, that’s not really an option.
Along with this we see and talk to other people in the waiting and treatment rooms that aren’t as lucky as we are. They’re piling up bills and the only alternative to going broke is insufficient or no treatment, which is no choice at all.
The part that really makes me want to read Bad Pharma is:
It would be easy for Bad Pharma to be a counsel of despair, but it’s not. At every turn, Goldacre describes simple measures that could stem the tide of corruption and even reverse it. Pharma companies, for example, have the trial data on all of their clinical trials. Simply forcing them to publish this data would allow researchers to re-run the data on treatments and get better advice to doctors and their patients. Goldacre proposes remedies large and small, ways that all of us could do something to help solve this problem. It’s hard to write a book that demonstrates bottomless, vast corruption without leaving the reader feeling helpless, but Bad Pharma will leave you ready to fight for a better world, to demand the professional conduct and regulation that promotes the best health outcomes for all of us.