drug shortages…..what can we do ?

So there is a lot in the news about the recent drug shortages. Of course as a patent for a drug expires it goes generic and other companies can now manufacture it, and the price drops significantly. OK that is business. These drug companies spend $200-300 million to run their studies so they need to recoup their costs. I am ok with that. What I am not ok with is new drugs that have one minor variation of the old drug so that they get a new patent and then reduce the supply of the old drug so you have to use the new drug. The new drug does not work any better, it just has a new patent so they can maintain exclusivity. An example is the cancer drug leucovorin. The new drug is L-Leucovorin, what is called a isomer of the old leucovorin, a drug used for colon cancer. At this time, from what I have read, it does not appear to work any better than the old Leucovorin.

So what can we do about it. We can do what I tell all my patients, take charge of your health so you won’t need these drugs. Remember, the only person in charge of your health is you. My premise has always been, be proactive not reactive. Don’t wait until you have a symptom to start doing something about it. A symptom is a late stage imbalance. Given the body is so well designed, when something goes out of whack, it is designed to bring it back into the normal range by compensation and what we call homeostasis. I can’t tell you how many times I have people say, I didn’t start having symptoms until I turned 50ish. In actuality the imbalances started way before then, it is just that the body was compensating for the imbalance. A symptom occurs when the body can no longer keep up with the imbalance.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to using drugs if they are really needed. Some people would not be here without them. I myself prescribe them on occasion. However, just remember, in the majority of cases, the drug is treating the symptom not the cause of the symptom. I work with my patients to teach them how to take care of themselves. I believe it is the doctors job to empower patients to be proactive in their own health care. Unfortunately, in todays medical model of 7 minute visits, the physician only has time to write a prescription to treat the symptom. It is not that they don’t want to spend more time, it is they can’t based on the insurance reimbursements. Given Medicare reimbursements are slated to drop again in January 2012, this is only going to get worse. In order to understand what is going on with my patients, I spend 2 hours in the initial consultation. We do a full head to toe review of systems and start connecting the dots. I explain what is going on and why. You can’t do this in 7 minutes. Our present system is not set up to do this.

One way we can reduce the impact on our personal and national economics is to stay well. By staying well we reduce the need for pharmaceuticals. Take charge, empower youself with education and implement a strategy that will improve the quality of your life. The only person in charge of your health is you. Prevention has a 100% cure rate… no one can argue with that statement.

be well,

Dr Bye