Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Scarcity is an oddity to us.

Let's admit it, we have grown up in a time when we had pretty much as much as we wanted of stuff.  There is plenty of gasoline, that's why we can confidently make trips across the country and expect to be able to get home like we used to do when our kids were young.  Could you imagine making that trip with the concern that you might not be able to find gas and never make it or possibly get there but unsure if you could make it back home? 

We have had plenty of food.  So much food that all of us didn't even have the money to buy it all.  Such that the stores throw it away or give it away to the food pantries for the poor.  There are groups that bring the extra food to apartment complexes where the Elderly live and they give it away to them for free.  Like I said throwing it away is the other option. 

Clothing is available such that some stores charge astronomical amounts for the very same thing that is sold elsewhere much cheaper and still people buy it so they can say that they got it from that store or because it has a certain name brand in one store and another less popular name brand in another store. 

We've grown up with plenty.  Almost whatever we wanted and as much of it as we can handle.   The limitation in the past has always been the money we had.  Those with a job or a more lucrative job could afford it and those without a job or with a lesser paying job couldn't unless of course we went into debt to get it.  But even that eventually would catch up with us and limit us at some point. 

Now we are starting to deal with scarcities of things that cannot be bought regardless.  At my work we have been aware of a certain injectable medication, Haldol, that has been scarcer.  Lots of people with severe psychotic symptoms depend on that medication to allow them to keep their symptoms under control.  We have been aware that the scarcity has started to impact the availability.  It used to be common that people would pick up several doses of this medication and it would be kept at the clinic and they would get several injections from it until they had to pick up a refill months later.  Now they can only pick up one dose at a time.  It used to be that people could depend on their being plenty of the medicine each time they needed a refill.  Now there are times the pharmacy does not have it and cannot get it from their suppliers requiring them to wait days or a week before they can get the medicine.  Consequently they are having longer time periods between injections and their symptoms are not being controlled as efficiently as before.  It used to be that the cost of it was fairly low and the insurance companies paid for it.  Now, due to lack of supply the cost has risen drastically and some insurances refuse to pay the new inflated cost.  Consequently clients must pay a sometimes substantial co-pay where they didn't have to pay any before to get the medicine.  The co-pay turns out to be a substantial amount of their limited income.  So sometimes it isn't purchased and not given and the symptoms run rampant. 

I understand the ingredient that is in shortage for the medication is something that allows the medicine to be injectable.  Not the actually active ingredient that controls the symptoms.  There is no explanation for why this ingredient is scarce.  There is not even a mention of what the ingredient is that is scarce.

I saw an article mentioning this shortage and the ingredient is used in various other medications including medications fighting cancer and so forth.  The article says that this scarcity has led to deaths because the needed medication was unavailable.  The article mentioned that hospitals are having a harder time than other places in getting it and the ingredient comes from foreign suppliers and the United States in general is having a harder time than some foreign countries in getting the medications.

In the case of my work, the injectable is a convenience medication.  It is available and still plentiful in pill form.  However; the reason that people take it in my work is because they are hugely unreliable in taking it in pill form to the point that the injection is needed not for their convenience but for the family, the clinic, and society's convenience to know the people have taken their medication. 

The fact that this feels so odd to have a scarcity of something that formerly was plentiful is what tells me that we have truly been spoiled in our world.  Now I am hearing that other items may become more scarce.  Food items or convenience items that are more on the order of luxury items.  How will our spoiled generation handle these scarcities, especially if they continue scarce over long periods of time and if the number of items in scarcity increase?  We may learn the lessons of generations before us even with money the money to buy in our pocket.  Something to think about.

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