Age Of Wonders

We truly do live in a time of wonders. The ancient Chinese proverb CURSE is “May you live in interesting times.” We do. Everything from disappearing glaciers, record drought, vanishing honeybees, to fantastic medical advances that mimic the natural effects of good diet, while costing a small fortune–interesting times, indeed.

This from the New York Times:

Dr. Joshua W. Knowles, a Stanford cardiologist, called the medicines “a triumph of the modern genetic revolution.”

He is talking about the new ‘wonder drug’ that the FDA has just recommended be approved for all uses–even before the human drug trials are completed, which is expected in two years.  Wonder of wonders, the FDA is approving a medicine without human trials. They already do that for all food additives, taking the industry’s word for the safety of the artificial ingredients. Apparently that model works so well that they are going to begin doing it for prescription drugs. All that needs to be claimed is that the effects are ‘revolutionary’.

An expert group recommended on Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration approve a powerful new drug to protect against heart attacks. If approved, it would be the first in a major new class of medicines in a generation that significantly lower levels of cholesterol, the leading cause of heart disease.

Did you know that cholesterol is a CAUSE of heart disease? That’s because it is not. It may be a symptom of heard disease, like angina, shortness of breath, but cholesterol is not a cause. Just this year, dietary cholesterol was removed from the list of dietary nutrients of concern as far as heart health was concerned. LDL chlolesterol can be controlled by diet, but the way you control it is by not eating any carbohydrates. Controlling the amount of carbohydrates you consume is a heart disease preventer, too, but it has a disadvantage. Nobody gets rich if you just change your diet.

Then there is the question of cost. The new drugs, like many new cancerdrugs, are monoclonal antibodies, produced from living cells at great expense. The companies will not say what they plan to charge. But Dr. William Shrank, chief scientific officer at CVS Health, estimates they will cost $7,000 to $12,000 a year.

If drugs were restricted to people with dangerously high cholesterol levels who cannot get their LDL low enough with statins, the cost would be $16 billion, he estimated. If people who are intolerant to statins are included, that would add another $20 billion. If people with a history of heart disease are included, the bill for the drugs rises another $150 billion.

We can pay 12,000 a year per person to do something that we could also do by breaking our addiction to sweets. Alternatively, we can continue to eat foods that are killing us, but temporarily correct one symptom of the damage we are doing, by taking a drug that will cost us one thousand dollars per month. The grand total per year for the nation for this drug–that has unknown side effects because drug trials are ongoing–of 186 billion dollars. In budget-deficit-speak that is a cost of 1.86 TRILLION dollars over a ten year period.

One–why do we keep not curing curable illnesses, never electing to fight root causes?

Two–why do we allow a drug company to set the price for a drug at such stupidly expensive levels? Insurance companies should say we will buy it when the prices is below one hundred dollars per month, and the price would immediately fall to that number. Canada will get this same drug for about 1/3 what we will pay because that is exactly what they will do.

Three–when will we quit hearing about cholesterol? It is known to not be a cause of anything, but I suppose because that is what statin drugs are sold to correct we will keep hearing about cholesterol until the money is all gone.

Let me list the wonders. Wonder drug. Wonder Price. Wonder why.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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