Treating a Common Children’s Ailment Isn’t Cheap

December 18, 2019

Hi Emily!
Unbuckle! Unbuckle, where are we going? Park!
Park! I’m Aviva Williams. I live here in Los Angeles with my husband, Jeff. We have two little girls, Amy is four and Emily just turned two. One night I put her to bed and she woke up a short while later screaming, “It hurts, it itches, it hurts, it itches, my tummy hurts!” And that’s when the pediatrician suggested, “Well maybe she has pinworms. “They’re like white thread-like worms “that can live in a person’s gut for a really long time.” And I’m going to go so fast too. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s the most common worm infection in humans in the United States. Pinworms is kind of like lice in that it’s invisible and it’s easily transmissible among schoolchildren. A key difference is when there’s a case of lice in school, the school notifies all the parents, they have lice checks. If someone has pinworms, like, that’s, people just don’t usually talk about that kind of stuff, you know, their bowel functions. (laughs) Get some water! So, our doctor had said, “I’ll call in the prescription “to your pharmacy and you can go pick it up!” Get a phone call a couple of hours later and they say, “Uh, we’ll have to special order this medicine, “and do you know it costs $250?” And I had no idea what they were talking about. Yay! Ow-el?
Towel, okay, all done? This is an old drug, you cannot get generic albendazole in this country, you can only get branded Albenza. It’s from a company called Amedra Pharmaceuticals. Two tablets. Albenza costs $724 per dose, of which my cost out of pocket is $250. This is half a dose, cost me out of pocket $125. Cost my company another $200, and yeah, a full dose is two bottles of this with two pills each. Being that this is so easily transmissible and present in the house, the pediatrician says, you know, “You should take the medication “and all the family members should as well.” Well we’re a small family, we’re a family of four. But four times $250 is $1,000. The eggs can live outside on surfaces, like, on bed sheets, on stuffed animals, for three weeks. Your house is contaminated, your entire everything is contaminated with these invisible eggs, how do you get rid of that? I felt very angry because I felt trapped. Like, there’s nothing you can, you need this medication, it’s the only medication that does the, you know, that treats this condition. The only thing you can do is pay up, I mean, what’s the alternative, you know? (laughs) Like, live with this? Who can afford this? And why, you know? Just to line the pockets of some pharmaceutical executive? People are being greedy with other peoples’ lives.

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