Yachting with Mr. Big isn’t as great as it sounds

By 
This, That And Then Some By Dorothy Rosby
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Article Image Alt Text

Dear Mr. Big Pharma CEO,

I hope you’re having a wonderful time on our yacht Forgive me if I sound presumptuous, but I feel like I share ownership with you. I’ve got glaucoma, and I’ve spent eight years taking your high-priced medicine for it. I’ve never complained though. The medicine prevents blindness and we do have that yacht.

Then one day, I picked up my eyedrops and was handed a bill for $240. This was slightly more than the $40 copay I’d been paying. I immediately began experiencing chest pains and labored breathing which I hadn’t realize are symptoms of glaucoma.

Turns out, my new insurance company thinks you charge too much for your medicine, and they’re not going to cover it no matter how much I pay them for my health insurance, which by the way, is a lot. Insurance CEOs need yachts too, you know.

That left me with three choices: I could go blind. I could cancel my health insurance so that I’d have enough money to pay for my eyedrops. Or I could move to Turkey.

People in other countries pay less for brand name medicines than Americans do, and Turkey gets the best deal of all. According to RAND, we pay 779 percent of what Turkish citizens pay for the same medicines. Why Mr. Big? Do you have family there?

If my math is correct— and it may not be—they pay around $31 for the same medicine I take. I could afford that and still have money left over for moving expenses and language lessons.

Thus, begun a four-month saga between me, my optometrist, my pharmacist and my insurance company. There were many letters, many phone calls and many family discussions about moving to Turkey.

And if that weren’t bad enough, I also began experiencing new side effects of my medicine, including a strange ka-ching sound every time I put drops in my eyes.

And then I made a wonderful discovery. There’s a generic version of your medicine. It costs $130 which still seems like a lot for a 25-day supply. But my insurance company pays most of it, leaving me to pay just $25 and allaying my fears of becoming a prescription drug refugee in Turkey.

I haven’t used it long enough to know if it works as well as your liquid gold version, but I already know the side effects aren’t as severe. I haven’t heard a single ka-ching since I started taking it.

So, this is goodbye Mr. Big. Living on a budget as you do, I’m sure you understand why I’m going generic. I just hope you can swing the yacht payments on your own.

Before I sign off though, I have a suggestion. You may not realize this Sir, but sticker shock is the main reason many people who take lifesaving medicines go ahead and die anyway. Have you considered instituting cost cutting measures? You could pass the savings on to your customers and help prevent mass migration to Turkey.

For one thing, you could take a tiny pay cut, with tiny being a relative term. Your accountant would have to run the numbers, but I think even if you reduced your $7 million salary by a couple million, you’d still be able to afford yacht fuel without selling your condo in the Caymans.

And think how much you’d save if you stopped making political donations. Politicians would probably appreciate no longer being forced into that awkward position where they have to denounce drug prices out of one side of their mouths and thank you for the hefty contributions out of the other.

You could also cut back on TV advertising. We’d all miss those clever commercials where people play volleyball and go dancing despite psoriasis and irritable bowel syndrome, but I think we’d get over it if it meant lower yacht payments.

Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time. Contact drosby@vastbb.net.

Then one day, I picked up my eyedrops and was handed a bill for $240. This was slightly more than the $40 copay I’d been paying. I immediately began experiencing chest pains and labored breathing which I hadn’t realize are symptoms of glaucoma.

Category: