Friday, July 4, 2008

O Canada!

O Canada!
Our friend and neighbor land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

There is only one medication so far that has any effect on ALS. It’s called Rilutek, and it slows the progression down somewhat. It costs $1,000 a month at my local drugstore.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

It’s $500 a month from Canada, including shipping and handling.

God keep thy land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Now, my insurance does happen to pay for this med, although the co-pay is $450, which kinda takes your breath away. Just think what the insurance company could save if they used a Canadian pharmacy. At this price, I hate to actually swallow and excrete these pills. I’d like to have them set in a tiara and swank around Albertson’s in it. I also use an inhaler to keep my lungs clear. It costs $340 a month at my local pharmacy, $32 a month from Canada.

And don’t even get me started on Lipitor.

I don’t begrudge Big Pharma what they charge for Rilutek. It’s only used for one disease, and we’re lucky someone is willing to make it at all. So, here’s a big shout-out to the manufacturer. Keep those little white pills coming! Charge whatever you have to! I’ll eat cat food! Hell, I’ll eat goat chow! I don’t care!

But this is about Canada. Without our friends to the north, there probably wouldn’t be a senior citizen left standing in the U.S. You’d think Big Pharma would want to keep their best customers (us elderly and/or sick) alive as long as possible with affordable prices, so that we can go on buying their products. But nooooo. I’m one of the Depression Babies, and there were so few of us, what does Big Pharma care? They’ve got the Baby Boomer stampede coming up hot on our heels, and the pharmaceuticals can afford to kill off all the Depression Babies, plus about half of the Baby Boomers, and still make a gazillion bucks a year.

(I was born in 1935, by the way, which had the lowest number of American babies born in any year in the 20th century. That’s why it was called the Great Depression. People were so depressed, they even stopped having sex. We’re a small cohort, but we’re choice. So far as I know, only three American babies were born in 1935: Elvis Presley, Woody Allen, and me. There may have been some others, who have slipped my mind, but not many . . .)

Plus which, not only are the Canadians smarter at politics than we are (they figured out how to stop the gouging by Big Pharma by simply having the government negotiate prices—duh!), but Canadians are a lot nicer than we are, too. One example of this is that they don’t start as many wars. In fact, name one they’ve ever started. (They’ve had some squabbles among themselves, but what country hasn’t?)

And it’s not that they don’t start wars because they don’t like to fight. Did you know the Americans attacked Toronto in 1813? Turns out that was a really bad idea. The Canadians won big time, as Rummy would say. We also attacked MontrĂ©al in 1813. (This was all connected to the War of 1812, doncha know.) MontrĂ©al was another big mistake: 460 Canadian troops turned back 4,000 American invaders!

(It was called the War of 1812, BTW, even though it was obviously not confined to that year. Just as the 1994 earthquake in L.A. is called the Northridge Earthquake even though the epicenter was in Reseda. “Northridge Earthquake” has a nicer ring to it than “Reseda Rumbler.” Likewise, “The War of 1812” just plain sounds better than “The War of 1812-’13-’14 and part of 1815,” and it fits into headlines and book titles better.

I’m not saying that Canadians are superior to us in every way, I’m just saying, a little appreciation is in order. And if you think I’m kissing up to the Canadians just because I love their pharmacists, you are so right.

But, all that aside, there is good news about the treatment of ALS. Turns out the most successful treatment known so far is . . . hold on . . . GAINING WEIGHT!!!

We’ll explore this interesting turn of events next week.