Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cancer victims, pharmaceutical companies, and the old malevolent fortune teller trick

“I am dying. What can I do?”

“I see in my crystal ball that someone with the Evil Eye has put a curse on all your possessions. On your money. On your jewelry. On every valuable thing you own. That is why you are dying.”

“But what can I do?”

“Bring all your money and jewelry to me. I will put them all in a velvet bag with magic herbs. There is no trickery here. I will return the bag to you. Just keep it sealed for three months and a few days. Then you can open the bag. And you will have a chance to live longer. Abra cadabra!”

By the time the victim opens the bag, the fortune teller has vanished to another city. And so has your money. Abra cadabra!

Above, a scam used to rob a few vulnerable people every year. Below, a scam used to deprive vulnerable cancer victims of billions.

What Bristol-Myers Squibb hasn’t let out of the bag, except in a tiny footnote that you might have missed, is that lung cancer patients who took Opdivo on average lived an extra 3.2 months

They weren’t  cured. They still might have been gasping for air, stumbling to walk, or in pain from their metastasized disease. And then there are all the people who will die, or fall even more gravely ill, from the side effects of the medicine.

But they got 3.2 months. On average.

Uh, another small catch. The cost of the drug is $13,200 a month. A month! That comes to over $39,000 per patient, on average. If your medical insurance doesn’t cover all or most of that, you may well have to take all your money and your jewelry and  sell it to cover the cost — the equivalent of putting it in a magic bag. 

Or if your insurance company covers the cost, don’t be surprised when the rates you pay go through the roof. And then you may need to put your possessions into a magic bag and sell them to pay the insurance premiums.

Abra cadabra!

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