by Natasha N. Deonarain, MD, MBA
Take a moment to reflect on the amount of money you now spend on 1) rising health insurance deductibles, 2) rising health insurance premiums, 3) rising cost of doctor’s visits, 4) rising cost of specialist visits, 5) the cost and number of unnecessary lab or image tests, 6) rising pharmacy plan deductibles, 7) overall cost of hospital and medical bills and 8) your personal out-of-pocket expenses.
Many of us in the US struggle with the cost of prescription drugs. In a recent Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA, August 2016), researcher Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH and colleagues examined why the rise in prescription (Rx) drug costs seem to be happening despite America’s strong wish to control healthcare expenses.
Between 2013 – 2015, there was about a 20% rise in net spending on prescription drugs which accounted for an estimated 17% of total healthcare expenses. Seventy-two percent of that high cost came from only 10% of all prescriptions.
Dr. Kesselheim and coauthors believe the prices arise largely “from the approach the United States has taken to the granting of government-protected monopolies to drug manufacturers, combined with restriction of price negoation at a level not observed in other industrialized nations.” They also found the primary reason to be patent protection of new drugs on the market.
To get an idea of the scope of the problem, Dr. Kesselheim and coauthors noted that the prices of 2% of the sample number of drugs investigated had risen by more than 1000%. Some of them had risen by 5500%. These included the increased cost of life-saving medications such as digoxin (637%), isoproterenol (2500%) and nitroprusside (1700%). These medications have been on the market for more than 40 years and have been safe and effective when used in the correct circumstances. The authors also states that Americans as a country spend more than 2X the amount on prescription drugs than 19 other countries in the world.
When it comes to the Medicare program, federal law prohibits price negotiations that would help beneficiaries. What this means is that the elderly will struggle to pay more as they age and get sicker because the law stops them from benefiting from negotiated lower prices.
A pharmaceutical company can also “pay to delay” the release of a generic version of their patented drug by another company for up to 7 months. This forces Americans to continue spending at thousands of percent markup for what would otherwise be a lower cost.
What does all this mean for your health? Let’s take a look at 10 key reasons.
Keep in mind the following list will not be typical health-related explanations, like “prescription drugs are toxic to your body.” Rather, this information will help show you how the entire healthcare system comes into play in keeping you sick and broke. This is what we call an integrated viewpoint. Just as doctors cannot expect you to get healthy by treating only your nose, so can you not expect to stay healthy by focusing only on one part of America’s healthcare system. The reasons cited below will show you how the “system” has created a vicious cycle of dependency on each part. It’s this dependency on the entire system that keeps you trapped. In turn, it makes you sicker and poorer. In the long-term, if you don’t stop depending on the “system,” one part or another of it, including doctors and other healthcare workers, the “system” with its integrated parts, will kill you.
WHY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS KILL YOU: An Integrated System Viewpoint
#1. We have created a culture of dependency. Prescription drugs create a culture of dependency by keeping our minds focused on prescription drugs and their costs, rather than showing us clear solutions on how to live life well without them! This intense focus keeps us in a state of panic and fear. We fear that prescriptions will cost more, and we panic when we hear we may not be able to afford them. This leaves us disempowered in terms of making our own healthful choices where prescription drugs are not a focus.
#2. For-profit incentives are embedded in the system. We have to face this fact. Drug companies get paid to sell their prescriptions. It only makes sense that the higher the prices, the more profit they’ll make.
#3. Rising pharmacy plan deductibles and out-of-pocket costs keep you trapped. This is the vicious cycle of prescription drug dependency. You’re able to put less and less money toward investing in long-term health, simply because you’re spending so much now to stay fixed. You’re always chasing the tail of the donkey, so to speak. You’re not moving forward toward a thriving life.
#4. Chronic stress and fear causes serious killer diseases. Using fear as a motivator for us to purchase prescription drugs creates stress in our population. People begin to live in a state of constant worry about what will happen when they need prescriptions or can’t afford them. As we now know, chronic stress causes cancer, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, infertility and many, many other diseases we are currently trying to fix. Chronic stress damages our minds and our memories, and leads to cognitive decline as we age. At these times in our lives, we reach for the very expensive prescriptions to help “fix” us that created the stress in the first place! Living with this mindset, you can never escape the vicious cycle of dependency on prescription drugs and their pricing fluctuations.
#5. Short-term drug price increases leads to less long-term health. The more money you spend on expensive prescription drugs today, year after year, the less money you’ll have to invest in your long-term health. This is like “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” You may be helped in the short-term, but you’ll constantly live in fear of when you won’t be able to afford your prescriptions. When prices become so high, you may die because you’re too sick to not need those prescriptions. You’ve become dependent on them as life-giving materials.
#6. Your regular doctor is trained to prescribe medications, not take you off them. Your regular doctor takes a semester or two of pharmacology in medical school. He or she is trained from the very first year, how treat you with prescription drugs as a way to help you heal. He has not been trained to take you off as many drugs as possible while keeping you safe.
#7. Medicare is prohibited from negotiating lower prices. That means you spend a lot more money on prescription drugs. This leaves you less and less money to invest on true, total health for life.
#8. “Pay for delay” of generic pills forces you to pay more over a longer period of time. Paying more and more money over time only makes you go broke faster. It causes more stress and anxiety. Again, your focus becomes a desperate worry over prescription drugs and prices as a solution, rather than investment in long-term vitality. This is what we refer to as the “quick fix” in medicine.
#9. Money is spent by pharmaceutical companies on prescription drug research not natural products. It only makes sense that if a drug company is making 2000% or so on its patented drugs, that it would invest money in research and development of more synthetic, patentable drugs. There is no incentive for a for-profit drug company to invest in low-cost natural products that they cannot protect with a patent. Here again is the cycle of dependency demonstrated. It teaches us to “believe” that there is no scientific evidence to support natural treatments. Doctors even believe in this explanation, but few have done their research to find clear evidence that exists but has been suppressed by the medical community. We’ve all failed to ask the most important question: why is the scientific evidence for natural cures and treatment not the standard of care? We have only to follow the money for our answers.
#10. Focusing on prescription drugs instead of health is disempowering. Drugs are currently 17% of all healthcare expenses. This is a very high amount to be spending on just drugs. What if 17% of all our healthcare expenses were put to nutrition and exercise programs, acupuncture, health empowering education or nutritional supplements? How do you think that might affect our population’s health? How would if affect your health? A focus on prescription drugs is disempowering because it keeps us focused on depending on drugs rather than keeping our focus on enjoying life in health and abundance. This new focus is known as investing in longevity and vitality, and is a customized approach.
The integrated nature of our sick care system is designed to keep you sick and broke. It is not health focused. It causes you to believe that fixes and cures are the best way to stay healthy. It plays on your fear of getting sicker to make you spend more money, ironically causing you to get sicker and poorer much, much faster!
The reality of our bodies is this however: we are ALL prone to many diseases like cancer or heart disease, regardless of our genes. It’s our environment of emotions, nutrition, relationships, finances and sense of purpose that stop us from manifesting these killer diseases. When we’re happier and feel abundance, we create good lives for ourselves. We remain healthy for much longer.
Focusing on a big picture viewpoint such as this with prescription drugs as part of the equation, we see something different when we put the entire healthcare system together. We see our lives and our health in a different way. We see that we can find the strength and courage to make different choices for the sake of investing in the long-term, not the short-term.
Start a new conversation with yourself. Learn to get out of the vicious cycle of dependency demonstrated in this article. Seek to become educated in more truthful ways about how the whole healthcare system really works. Learn to shift your focus, expand it, and see a bigger picture. It’s essential that you become your own resource to help you create the life of your dreams. You may want to explore the services of a specially Certified Personal Health Strategist™ (PHS™) who understands the impact of the entire healthcare system and can help you navigate safely off your medications and into total health for life. This may help you eliminate unnecessary trial and error doing it yourself without guidance. It may just be the life-saving thing you need to create longevity and support abundance!
Your change in the way you understand healthcare has never been more critical than right now. What will you choose?10 Reasons Why Prescription Drugs Will Kill You...it's not what you think! Click To Tweet
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