Friday, April 29, 2011

Capitalism

I have Gout. On a daily basis I take Allopurinol to control the high uric acid blood content that causes gout flareups. When gout becomes symptomatic, uric acid crystallizes in the joints and the joint becomes very painful.

For centuries, it has been known that Colchicine can be used to treat gout flareups, references go back to 1500 BC, Ben Franklin took it for his gout.

The other day I was at the doctor and had to get a new prescription. He said "It's interesting, Colchicine has changed". I was puzzled - this was a drug from before Christ which is extracted from a plant. How could it change?

Turns out, that since this drug had been around forever, it pre-dated the FDA. So it was never "approved". Well, the FDA started an initiative to get drugs that were unapproved to be "approved". So URL-Pharma ran some tests, showed that Colchicine actually does what we've known it does for centuries, were granted 3 years exclusivity on Colchicine under the brand name "Colcrys", and they raised the price from 9 cents a pill to almost 5 dollars a pill. When you have a gout flareup you are supposed to take 2 pills immediately, and one and hour later - that now costs $15. for a drug that was developed by the ancient Greeks. All generic sales have been halted.

Here is an article from the New England Journal of Medicine

I'm considering not filling my prescription in protest. I haven't had a flareup in a very long time due to controlling the gout with Allopurinol - but interestingly, my allopurinol prescription ran out back in December. On January 1, I stopped drinking soda and have been avoiding sugars and especially high fructose corn syrup at all costs.

One symptom of gout is that when it gets bad, the crystals can form a hard deposit called a tophus. While gout is primarily considered a hereditary disease, the small tophus that had formed in my right elbow and was stubbornly hanging on through years of treatment, has almost vanished in the last four months since I stopped drinking a gallon or more of HFCS sweetened sodas daily. There is evidence that the fructose can lead to increased production of uric acid.

This isn't as conclusive as a blood test - we'll see what that says, I'm getting one before I start back up on the Allopurinol. I will be starting the medicine anyway, those gout flares really sucked, and large deposits can ruin your joints for good.

3 comments:

Frank Irwin said...

A gallon of soda daily? Holy Criminy!

SFJour said...

"Capitalism" aka "Diet Roulette"

You appear to be a smart guy with an addictive personality. Didn't your doc tell you that your sugar-water diet was feeding your gout? Please don't tell me that you ignored his advice because Colchicine was a cheap fix! -Mic

murphstahoe said...

I'm off the sauce, for good...