A Giant Pain in my Toe and Wallet — Drug Prices Suck

The price of a drug I need for a chronic condition was raised for no reason, but I paid because I was in pain.

I have gout and it hurts like hell whenever I have a flareup.  It’s mostly under control these days, but a few months ago it wasn’t and my left toe was red, inflamed and in serious fucking pain.  I have a few normal, proven techniques to deal with an attack, like diet and inflammatories, but this last attack could not be controlled.  I limped off to the doctor, and she prescribed something I hadn’t taken since my first outbreak five years before—a drug called Colchicine.

In my vague memory, the drug costed a few bucks, perhaps no more than $20. Yet when I got to the pharmacy, the cost to fill the prescription was more than $150 for a few pills.  The pharmacist was embarrassed and apologetic.  I didn’t care. I was in pain and shelled out the money, and my very painful symptoms were gone in one day.

I had no idea why the price had gone up and chalked it up to faulty memory, but then I saw the latest article about worse-person-on-the-planet, Martin Shkreli, the vulture capitalist who raised the price of a formerly cheap, old drug from $13 bucks to more than $750.  I began to wonder if something similar hadn’t happened to my drug of choice, and sure enough, I found an article in Slate that details my personal physical and wallet pain:

Until January, colchicine was sold by many companies and cost as little as 10 cents a pill. Now it’s available only under the trade name Colcrys, sold by a Philadelphia company called URL Pharma—for five dollars per pill. * The colchicine story, and a few others like it, have provoked ire among some patients and doctors about an otherwise praiseworthy effort by the FDA to get rid of old, untested, potentially harmful drugs. FULL STORY 

My drug went from 10 cents a pill to $5 a pill in between the times I needed it.  But I’m lucky.  I have a job and health benefits.  Because Gout is not life threatening, if I didn’t have the money, I would have just had to suffer through needless pain.  Poor people who can’t afford crazy drug prices can always afford weed or hard alcohol, but that seems like a shitty way to do business.

I have only one conclusion from my own personal experience and the latest debacle in prescription drug prices.  Greedy assholes are wrecking our country, and there is no insult mean or blunt enough to capture the simmering frustration this kind of nonsense is creating.