Wait- What!?!

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The Influenza A has finally struck our house. My daughter said she wasn’t feeling good earlier this week and when the fever wouldn’t break and the dark circles under her eyes appeared we took her in to be tested. This isn’t the “flu bug” that everyone talks about with a fever and puking and other gory stuff. This is the real deal. The upper respiratory infection that is highly contagious and if left untreated can lead to other serious health issues.  This virus is constantly changing and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics we see and hear about. It is so bad that our doctor recommended that the entire family take the treatment an antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). Fine we can do that. Better safe than sorry. Then I went to Walgreens.

So this isn’t a post about my family getting sick. We have two teachers and four kids, two of which go to daycare- we expect to get sick. It is also not a post about going to the doctors, or the spreading of germs or anything of that other stuff you commonly hear about.  This is a post about the outrageously expensive medicine that you need to get through it. I could not believe it when the pharmacist told me the total. My reaction was like ” Wait, what!?! You want me to pay $222. 99 for one does!?!” Now multiple that by six and you are looking at over 1300 dollars to keep our family healthy.  We are lucky. We have great health insurance and even though we haven’t met our deductible for the year and we had to pay for this out-of-pocket, we are still lucky, because we could. It made me sick to think that there are people who have Influenza, or who have kids who have it, and can’t medicate them because it’s just too expensive. Why in the world would we have medicine available and not make it affordable? I can’t fathom profits over someone’s health. Sure, there are some coupons online, but it is still seriously outrageous to think we have a one of the widest spread outbreaks of Influenza A right now and the medicine to treat it is out of reach for so many people.

So, I can’t just rant, I need to do something and taking my anger, shock, and frustrations out on the nice lady at Walgreens isn’t effective because she isn’t to blame. But who is? Well, for starters the makers of Tamiflu must be, so I emailed them. You can to by using this link https://www.gene.com/contact-us/email-us. We will see what they say… I will keep you posted, because I am not done with this rant by any means.

UPDATE: I finally spoke with some people at Genentech, the makers of Tamiflu, and it wasn’t because of the cost. I sent the original email asking why and how they could charge so much, and I didn’t hear anything, except for the auto response of “thanks for sending us an email.”   Fast forward two days and my entire family is experiencing some pretty wicked side effects from the drug. Here’s the list of some of our side effects, many of which are not listed on the drug’s labels: blackouts, night terrors, loss of sleep, severe neck and joint pain, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting. Keep in mind most of these symptoms are in people (kids) who are taking the drug for precautionary reasons! So I wrote another email, not only telling them what happened to everyone, but also asking for a refund because we obviously stopped taking the drug. I did get a response saying that our symptoms were reported to the FDA and if I wanted to talk more, here was a number to call, so you bet I called them. I spoke with a representative for the company for about 10 minutes, who then transferred me to nurse who took a whole report. Now, while she was nice, and her concern for my family seemed genuine, at the end of the 45 minute call, in which I reported numerous detail of my family’s ailments, she told me we didn’t qualify for a refund -here’s why: the medicine is not faulty. In other words, if our package had been missing a few doses we would have gotten a refund, but since we got what we paid- a full bottle- there is nothing they can do. I was told that Genentech is sorry this happened to us, and that the quality control team will look into the side effects, but refunds are only issued for faulty medicine, which really means faulty packaging.

I’m more than a  little disappointed in the results, but I’m still not sure I’m done with this one. It isn’t really about the money as this point, although I’m still a bit outraged at the cots. I have been doing some research on Tamiful and it’s not pretty. I do appreciate that we live in a day and age where we have access to good medicine that can save lives and help stop the spread of serious viruses, but at what cost? I know there is a risk with taking almost everything out there, and I am still going to vaccinate my family and follow my doctor’s orders, but I am a little more leery now.

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