I’ve had severe asthma since I was a little kid. It was so devastating that I basically lived like Boo Radley for years, not participating in sports or anything physical outside of rolling around on a skateboard in the driveway. I’ve been hospitalized several times for it and had to carry a stupid inhaler around with me at all times for years. When I moved out of my parent’s house at 18, I hauled a nebulizer with me in case my lungs went AWOL.
When I relocated to San Francisco, one of the first things I had to do was find a doctor to prescribe my meds. By that age, 21/22, I had cleaned up my diet quite a bit, no longer lived with cats, and started exercising. My asthma got better and attacks were less frequent, but I still had to keep an inhaler around. I’d get chest tightness once or twice a day, so I took to taking a prophylactic puff in the morning.
Eventually I got an Advair prescription and it changed everything. Advair is a preventative medicine administered with a disk inhaler. By using it everyday, I don’t have any asthma symptoms. It’s not a cure or anything and I’d still be fucked without it, but it makes my life way better. For me, it’s a miracle drug.
Like everything worth anything, there is a cost. Advair is about $300 a month and it’s not covered by my insurance. Each month I make the equivalent of a modest car payment to the pharmacist so I can breathe. It’s a bummer to pay and I’d love the medicine to be free, but it’s not. Last year the medicine’s patent expired, but there is still a couple of years left to go on the disk design, so it’s not going to be in generic for a while. If I was able to put what I pay in asthma medicine into mutual funds each month, I’d be retiring in style with all that compound interest adding up. Instead, I get to buy a drug that doesn’t even get you high.
This is the part of most blogs where the average whiner will accuse the drug companies of being sooooo unfair. Fuck that. Some genius invented a drug that improves my life in every way. I have a disease that could kill me, that kept me from thinking of myself as an athlete, and ruined my childhood. Now there is relief.
There’s no one to blame for my condition (well, I’m pretty sure my mom smoked while pregnant, so it’s probably her fault). There is no reason for anyone else to cover the cost of what’s wrong with me, other than charity. I could go on less effective medicine, but that’s not what allows me to live my life the way I want to. Advair does. I’m brand loyal because I like to breathe. The company invested time and money into making something awesome and they should be rewarded for it.
That’s not to say I’d be against getting some free drugs. I get the epic hookup on weed, and I totally appreciate that. So if someone at Big Pharma wants to kick down the good stuff, I’m happy to accept it. I’ll shill for you. I’ll shill so hard it’ll make your head spin.
Now, I can already sense the confusion from some of you. It might sound like I’ve got some Stockholm Syndrome going on with Big Pharma. Let me double down. They also make the contact lenses that help my blind ass see, so I guess I’m inclined to support them.
“But isn’t it, like, a right to be able to see and breathe?”
Totally. My body didn’t get the memo. No matter how much I can deadlift or how fast I can run, my biological operating system still has some fairly major bugs. Big Pharma has created a way for me to live better. They’re ok by me. It takes billions of dollars to bring a drug to market and I assumed none of that financial risk.
“But, hey man, what about natural remedies and homeopathy?”
They don’t work. You can get some relief from dietary changes, but I suspect these have more to do with reducing or eliminating triggering allergens. When I don’t eat eggs or dairy, my allergies and asthma are way better. They’re not cured, but they are way more manageable. In fact, when I restrict my diet, I can actually cut my Advair dose in half, saving me about $150 a month. Another way to look at this is eating cheese can cost me $150 a month.
I’ve tried all manner of homeopathic remedies over the years and they don’t do shit. The reason they don’t work is they’re mostly sugar and water. Sugar and water do not stop asthma. Companies that sell this shit are as shady as it gets. People who prefer homeopathic products to Big Pharma products are suckers. They are paying for nothing.
If Big Pharma is greedy for charging people for something that works, doesn’t that make Big Homeopathy even more evil for charging money for something that doesn’t work?
Ok, so maybe you know someone who took some bee pollen and it cured their leaky butt syndrome. Welcome to the placebo effect. It’s been studied and there is actual evidence to back it up, unlike that bottle of sugar water you bought at GNC for $19.99. You could’ve just eaten five grains of sugar out of a packet you grabbed from Starbucks and chugged a glass of water and gotten the same result.
I say all of this as someone who likes organic food and yoga and owns a salt rock lamp (it doesn’t do anything except look cool). I want to believe there’s a natural way for me to cure my asthma. It would save me $300 a month and I’d be free of a lifelong burden. You can’t get much more motivated than that. But answers are not to be found on the homeopathy shelf. Nothing works for me except real medicine.
So what’s the point of this rant? Why do I feel the need to shit all over something a lot of you people believe in? It’s because I hate liars. People who peddle homeopathy are ignorant at best, but likely fibbing to stuff their hemp pockets. If you spend more than 10 minutes looking this stuff up on reputable sites (not anything owned by that Health Ranger douche or that asshole David Avocadon’t Wolfe) you will see the truth: homeopathy does not work and it never has. Any anecdote you might be able to mobilize is not data. Just in case you were curious, the plural of anecdote is not data. Even my completely unhelpful experience with homeopathy for asthma is just an anecdote. But my experience is paralleled by countless studies by real scientists and doctors, not some pony tailed graduate of Paleo University.
Are pharmaceutical companies greedy? Probably. Just about anyone who makes useful shit and values their own time should be. Hopefully someone will figure out how to shoot stem cells into my lungs or something. Until then, me and Big Pharma are going to keep doing business together. That might make me an asshole, but at least I can breathe, which in case I missed something, is super important.