Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1871 The Pill Police



It’s about 10 a.m. on a weekday.  A patrol car two wheel screeches around the corner, lights a-flashing, siren a-blaring and pulls up in front of the house of a man we’ll call Crazy Henry.

Two cops walk to the front door and give it the cop-knock, the one that sounds like beating a bass drum with a nightstick.  Loud enough to wake the dead.

Henry’s napping on the couch. He staggers up, opens the door and one of the cops -- the big one with the officer Potsy beer belly says “Hankis, you haven’t taken your 9:30 Abilify.  Get moving or you’re going downtown with us.”

Henry takes his pill as Potsy takes a picture with his smartphone.  “Don’t do that again, Hanky or you’ll regret it.”

The cops leave and Henry goes back to finish his nap.

What has just happened?  Nothing.  And that’s the problem. If Henry had taken his pill, it would have sent an electronic message to his doctor.  Yes, they have a pill now that does that.  But he didn’t take it. So Dr. Modern’s office manager dials 1-800-PILLCOP, taps in a patient number and presto! The Pill Police arrive at Henry’s door with a friendly nightstick reminder.

The Food and Drug Administration approved that drug recently, and the results are amazing.  Abilify is a pill that fights a wide swath of mental problems.  People who fail to take it often cause trouble for themselves and others.  The transmitter and the Pill Police have solved that widespread memory lapse.

Henry drifts off to sleep trying to figure out how to separate the pill from the chip so he can game the system by swallowing the little chip but not the actual medicine.

Meanwhile, across town, the Part D directors of five major health insurance plans are meeting.  They want to decide among themselves how to classify this new pill so they can wring the most money out of patients. In ordinary times, we would call that a conspiracy in restraint of trade.

Let’s see. It’s too new for there to be a generic, so we’re safe on that.  The pill costs eight cents to manufacture, so the drug company has decided the retail price should be something like $364.72 each. The pharmacies will take their usual cut, bringing the customer price to $437.66 each. So the insurance companies make it a level 10 drug which means users will pay the first $430 dollars and insurance will pick up the remaining $7.66.

Is there some kind of privacy right violated here? No. People with mental health conditions have no privacy rights. It’s in the Constitution. You can look it up.

While you’re in a research frame of mind, take a look at the side effects for this stuff.  One of the main ones is warning about “suicidal thoughts or behaviors.”

What, exactly, is a “suicidal behavior?”  You know the answer.  Swallowing the microchip counts if you swallow them but not the pills.

And let’s hope the microchip melts after sending out its signal.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
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© WJR 2017

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