When this article in the Atlantic popped up on my timeline I favourited it to read at a later time. I wasn’t in the mood for it. Well after I finally got around to reading it, I was definitely “in a mood” – a pissed off, want to slap someone mood (even if that would mean an achy hand a wrist for some time).
Please take a moment to read the drivel that was published so you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Where to begin?
The Dr. Frankenstein references?
Calling biologics “lifestyle” drugs?
Waxing poetic about Phil Mickelson?
Enbrel worked a bit for me but I’ve moved on to Cimizia, yet another biologic. It is not a lifestyle drug, it is a life saving drug.
I don’t think I’ve ever given a second thought to the Chinese hamster ovary cells when I’m injecting my drugs. To be honest with you when you are in the level of pain people needing these medications are in, I’m not sure we’d care what it’s made of if it works. Maybe that’s just me. Is it Frankenstein-ish? Maybe but no more to me than most other drugs or modified food or preservatives or a million other things I’m in contact with every day.
I’d love to invite the author to hang out in my bathroom on Saturday nights when I do my injections. There isn’t a damn thing stylish about syringes, alcohol swabs, band-aids and tears every week. Sitting on the edge of my bathtub trying to get through 3 shots. It hurts. It’s a lonely process. And it’s a scary process. I know what I’m injecting into my body: chemo and engineered proteins. I have read all of the possible side effects – the list ends in death in case you were wondering – but when I’m sitting on the edge of the tub I *can’t* think about those things. If I did, there’s no way I’d every be able to inject myself. Instead I think, hope, wish that with every shot, I’ll get a bit more of my life back. More energy, less pain, less inflammation, more normalcy.
“Many of the most profitable biologics are indicated to prolong life for cancer patients, but Enbrel is a lifestyle drug: it is meant to enhance life rather than extend it.”
Can we call it a lifestyle drug if it just gives you back normal function? I have no doubt that biologics will also be extending my life where other treatments may not have been as effective. A year in and already I have to worry about my heart. I had my first echo in January but thankfully, no inflammation of my heart, just my ribs.
Biologics aren’t optional for my condition. Rheumatoid disease came on quickly and even with biologic use it continues to affect me and ravage my body. These drugs just slow down the process and give me a chance to live.
As a Canadian with no cable I wasn’t even aware until I first researched Enbrel last summer that Mickelson was a spokesperson for the drug. Bless government regulation that keeps that nonsense from happening here. Looking at the differences in the Canadian and US websites for biologics, the level or marketing and style is completely different. Sad but true. US sites tend to be flashier, glamorized while the Canadian ones are more toned down. Either way, the issue of money comes up when biologics are needed.
I still remember when my rheumatologist mentioned them and their approximately 20,000$ per year price tag. I cried a lot when I got home. Even with insurance I’d have a 20% copay. No way I could afford that. Thankfully, as horrible as pharmaceutical companies can often be, Enbrel and Cimizia both helped to subsidize or completely pay for what my insurance doesn’t cover. Plus patient support, nurses available 24/7 to take calls, providing you with sharps containers and other essentials for injections. I’m lucky. So many people who need these drugs don’t have access to them due to money or lack of healthcare or just poor healthcare.
Call biologics whatever you’d like but I doubt there is an actual patient who takes them that agrees with the characterization in the article. I just wish publications wouldn’t print such absolute crap.