I had decided on my angry letter as soon as I saw the topic. See, I’m still pissed at Allen Ginsberg.
Yeah. I know. He’s been dead for quite some time now, and I should probably let that whole college poetry reading humiliation thing go. But, Jay-sus, that guy was such a self-aggrandizing bag of dicks.
(Nope. Still not over it, apparently.)
But, as irksome as I find the memory of our one and only interaction, I’m far angier at another entity. Let me explain.
Dear Corepharma and Shire Pharmaceuticals,
I recently lost the equivalent of three months of my life. No, I wasn’t in a coma or an amnesiac – though some days it felt close.
Let me back up a bit. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with ADD. This was a surprise to literally no one but me. Well, and my mom. But guess who else recently found out she has ADD and was completely unaware. Denial is strong in our family.
But I digress. This is the blog post about the diagnosis and the wonders of being on the right med, should you want to about read the pre-med chaos.
Recently, our insurance changed, and I could no longer afford the super effective extended release Adderall made by Shire Pharmaceuticals. So, I had to switch to the generic fast release stuff, twice a day. It was a pain in the ass because being too distracted to remember to take that second dose is a huge problem. But with the help of the screeching alarm on my phone, set daily to 4pm, I’d manage to remember to take both doses and swim through my day, writing, freelance editing, spending time with the fam and not accidentally setting supper on fire or getting in the car and having no idea how I was ending up on the lakeshore instead of at my mom’s house. (These were regular occurrences pre-Adderall.)
This all changed three months ago. Three months ago, it became impossible to get the generic Adderall I’d been taking. The pharmacy was no longer able to obtain the little white, octagonal pills from their wholesaler, so they substituted another brand. They were round and pink from a pharmaceutical company called Corepharma.
Unfortunately for me, this med switch coincided with a metric fuckton of life stresses. I’m not proud to say that I began to flounder under all of the crap. Other than short blog posts, I stopped writing. I just couldn’t focus on more than a thousand or so words at a time. And those words? Took three to five times as long as they should have.
I still did my editing, but at a far slower pace than I’m used to. And I also re-edited everything multiple times because I was worried that I’d miss something in a client’s work.
I was back to wandering away from supper and having it burn. Intending to drive one place and ending up somewhere completely different and having no real memory of how I’d gotten there. I couldn’t focus on anything. I couldn’t hold a thought in my brain. And my depression was back full force.
For three months, I blamed the stress. And every day, the depression got a little worse. Writing and being able to interact like a relatively normal human being seemed to get farther and farther away from me with every hour that passed. I can’t tell you how many nights during this period of time I cried myself to sleep feeling utterly worthless. Feeling like I was weak because I couldn’t handle these stresses. Especially because even though this isn’t a great time right now, I’ve been through infinitely worse.
Two weeks ago, I was at my mom’s house when my phone alarm screeched that it was Adderall o’clock. So I dug through my purse and found one lonely white, octagonal Adderall pill in an otherwise empty pill bottle. About half an hour after I took it, it was as if I’d been feeling my way through the dark for the last three fucking months and someone turned on the goddamn light. And not just any light – a floodlight.
Suddenly, I was remembering all these random things I’d meant to do but had forgotten about. I came home and busted out several blog posts in advance in no time flat. I had ideas for the story I’d stopped writing three months earlier. I didn’t feel as though I was walking around in a fog or struggling to find the right word in any given conversation.
At first, I was elated. It wasn’t me. Or my inability to handle stress. It was the medicine.
And then, I was furious. Weren’t all generics supposed to be the same? Weren’t they all supposed to have the same active ingredient?
The next morning, mourning that I’d taken the last pill that worked, and staring forlornly into that stupid bottle of pink pills, I decided to call the pharmacist. She explained to me that while all generics are supposed to have the same active ingredient, they can have all different kinds of dyes and fillers. Some people don’t react well those dyes and fillers rendering the medicine ineffective. Sometimes the inactive ingredients work against the active ingredients, also rendering them ineffective.
I explained that the white pills worked really well, but that one of the techs had told me it was impossible to get them, so I asked her why. She explained that they order them every month, but they only get what their wholesaler sends them. She said that most patients prefer the white pills over the pink ones. However, the wholesaler is rationing them because they’re rarely getting them from the manufacturers.
It seems that you, the company that manufactures the effective Adderall also manufactures a shiny new ADD med called Vyvance that’s ten to fifteen times as expensive. So you’re limiting production of the still safe and effective Adderall because you want even more fucking money by having doctors prescribe the more readily available (and astronomically expensive) Vyvance.
I get it. We all need to make a living. But here’s the thing, one of those life stresses I mentioned? Lack of insurance. We’ve joined the uninsured. I can’t afford the lovely and effective extended release Adderall at 131.00 a month, so I sure as shit can’t afford ten to fifteen times that cost for your new wonder drug. If this was the only script my family of four used, we’d find a way to pay for it, but it’s not. And if I have to choose between my child’s super pricey asthma meds and my ADD meds, guess which one I’m going to pick. And if I don’t have access to an effective affordable generic so I can function and do my work, how the hell am I supposed to pay for any meds from your company?
I’ve gone from furious to utterly enraged.
I understand that this is America, the most capitalist of all capitalist countries. I understand that pharmaceutical companies and insurances companies are greedy, money making machines. But when you refuse to make medicine even somewhat affordable and available for the people you’re trying to make your fortune off of, you’re eventually going to destroy your market. Those super expensive meds you keep introducing while phasing out affordable, existing ones ones will eventually bite you in the ass. Sooner or later, your target market will go without because they simply can’t afford your prices.
As for me, I’ll continue to waste hours calling every pharmacy in a thirty-mile radius every month to see if they happen to have the white pills in. This month I had no luck. Everyone had the worthless pink ones, except for one pharmacy that had some orange ones by yet another pharmaceutical company (Barr/Teva). Not quite as effective as the white ones, but worlds better than the pink. Sadly, they’re also four times as expensive as the white ones.
So, in summary…
Corepharma, from my conversation with several different pharmacists and from browsing online message boards, your product sucks ass. I’m not alone in feeling like I might as well have taken nothing. You may want to consider reformulating that stuff.
Shire, yes, I know, R&D is pricy. And I while I sincerely doubt you have any sort of code of medical ethics–or any ethics, really–maybe you could stop gouging the people who are funding your astronomical salaries. Otherwise, you may eventually find yourself in the same boat as the rest of us.
Here’s hoping you both stop being the literal worst ASAP,
For the other bloggers’ angry letters, just click their names.