Hot Topic #11: Big Pharma – A Look Into Martin Shkreli, The Gobs Of Money, And More

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.

Earlier this week, the Internet basically blew up because of this guy:

Image Credit: NBC News via Paul Taggart / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Image Credit: NBC News via Paul Taggart / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The media was all over it. Outrage was almost instantaneous. Martin Shkreli has been called almost every name in the book: “Public Enemy No. 1,” “the most hated man in America,” “a spoiled brat” by none other than Donald Trump, and more. The Daily Beast blatantly called him an asshole in their main headline, which was my exact impression of this shitty scumbag and fucking bottom feeder when the news first broke.

Shkreli’s decision to raise the price of Daraprim, used to treat an infection caused by a parasite, from a sensible $13.50 per pill to over $750 per dose, was jaw-dropping, among other things.

He soon back-pedaled, but the damage was already done:

It’s bad enough when your one decision sparks worldwide outrage, but I think it’s worse when your supposed colleagues in your own industry and supporting industries turn their backs on you. However, this piece of shitty scum totally deserves it. I’m applauding those in the bio tech industry and PhRMA for standing up and saying, “Whoa, hang on a second, this is not acceptable.” Read more from The Washington Post.

With that said, however, my applause is limited and short-lived. These industries are fucking money hoarders!

In The Daily Beast article, a reporter confronted Shkreli about the low cost of producing Daraprim – Roughly one dollar per pill.

Shkreli’s response to her?

” … Shkreli claimed that the price hike was necessary for Turing Pharmaceuticals to increase revenue, and that some of the profits would be funneled into research and development costs for a Daraprim alternative …”



However, as The Washington Post article said, Shkreli is certainly not the first drug company executive, or drug company, to drastically raise prices.

Shkreli’s been in the news before – When he was the CEO of Retrophin, the company acquired Thiola, a drug used to treat an incurable kidney disease, with plans to raise its price over 20 times. The Retrophin board fired Shkreli and sued him for $65 million, accusing him of misusing company funds.

Here’s a few examples of those costs:

And, as I learned from researching for this post, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) apparently can’t do a damn thing about drug prices. They have no “legal authority to investigate or control the prices charged for marketed drugs,” according to a response on the FDA’s frequently asked questions section of their website.

Reading that statement basically knocked me over, initially.

According to an article from The Atlantic, Americans were reminded this week that the U.S. is the only fucking country in the FUCKING WORLD “where drug companies set their own prices for life-saving medications.”

Cue eye roll, heavy sigh, and head-shaking.

But, wait, hold on to your hats folks, there’s actually SOME GOOD NEWS!

Before this, and now even more so because of the spotlight on and scrutiny of Shkreli, people are actually paying attention, and giving a fuck!

All right, so maybe that first set of sentences were slightly sarcastic …

For me, I’ll believe all of this when I see it.

Meaning, I’ll believe it when Congress takes action.

Right now, the only thing that all of this proves to me is Big Pharma is king, and no one can reach his throne to take away his crown.

As someone who has typically chosen Democrat in the nine years that I have been able to vote, I’m genuinely intrigued at how Hillary and Bernie Sanders have responded to this debacle. However, I’m not entirely convinced. We are preparing for an election, after all.

There’s also the topic of generic drugs versus the brand names. I have personally struggled with this battle. I am fortunate to have a great work-sponsored health insurance plan and pharmacy coverage. However, my pharmacy coverage is extremely limited – It covers mainly generic drugs and prescriptions; almost nothing brand-name is listed in their database.

I struggle with this because the best birth control formula that I have found that works for me and my body does not have a generic form, at least not yet. At one point, I was paying nearly $100 per month for this particular formula. It finally got to the point where I couldn’t afford it, and I was forced to switch to a generic to save that money. Although switching to the generic reduced the cost from $100 to FREE because of my coverage, it was a sacrifice because it was a different formula, and my body reacted adversely, along with my emotional state every month. After struggling for a year or so, I asked my doctor for help. I’m so grateful for her – We have a plan in place for now and for the near future as I prepare for marriage and starting a family eventually, until the makers of the best formula release a generic version of their product, and hopefully that future generic version is covered under my insurance.

My predicament is most certainly small potatoes to those who deal with chronic and life-threatening conditions on a daily basis – Diabetes, cancer, mental illness, and more – and I definitely don’t want to minimize those struggles in any way. However, I wanted to share that small story of mine to help illustrate a point – I have dealt with Big Pharma and their drugs and their exorbitant costs, and almost everyone I know have dealt with it all, some much more often than others.

I could go on and on and on, but I think this is enough, for now.

I’ll leave you with John Oliver’s take on this – A double dose (no pun intended).

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition (Round 3)

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

This past weekend, we traveled to Scottsburg to see Al’s parents and the farm. It’s becoming a nice weekend getaway. In the last year, we’ve been there three times.

Here are recaps of the other visits:

Every year in September, Al’s mom side of the family has a reunion in Keysville, Virginia. Now that they have the farm, it’s a much shorter drive!

This round was really special because Nick, Savy, and Mia drove up as well!

Al drove the two of us in the Mustang, and Nick drove Savy’s SUV. Al and I stopped for dinner, calling Mom every hour to check in. We pulled up to the house around 11:00, just minutes after Nick, Savy, and Mia arrived.

It was definitely a full house! Seven people split among two bedrooms and the living room. We made it work though! Air mattresses are awesome.

On Saturday morning, Mom had breakfast ready – Cheesy eggs, maple sausage, donuts. Delicious!

It was really foggy in the morning:

Standing in the front yard.

Standing in the front yard.

The garage. Dad has made so much progress since we last saw it in June!

The garage. Dad has made so much progress since we last saw it in June!

We got to meet Scooter, the horse that Mom and Dad have on the property, early. He gets an apple every morning and grain at night. Mom and Dad have an arrangement with 16-year-0ld Caleb, who lives down the road. Mom and Dad host Scooter on the property, and Caleb does the rest.

He has plenty of grass.

He has plenty of grass.

We headed out to Keysville around 11:00. Dad stayed behind – A crew had arrived earlier to do the roof of the garage that he’s been building, and they needed more shingles. He was able to make the reunion though!

There was so much food at the church – Fried chicken, meatballs, vegetables, potatoes, pasta salad, bread … Yum! And the desserts – Holy moly!

We stayed for a couple of hours, enjoying each other’s company. We talked about the wedding a bit, along with people’s recent vacations and travels. I hung out with Nick, Savy, and Mia for a while on the church playground, while Al went for a spin in Uncle Joe’s Dodge Charger.

We missed the Moore clan though!

After we got back from the reunion, we traipsed around the farm. Eight acres is a lot to begin with, and we didn’t cover it all!

Al was nerding out all last week – He bought a new quadcopter, the Phantom 3 by DJI. He couldn’t wait to test it out! The highest he flew it was around 200 feet! Amazing 🙂

Al getting ready to fly it on Saturday afternoon.

Al getting ready to fly it on Saturday afternoon.

The awesome thing about this drone is that the camera is built in, and it’s much steadier. Also, Al was able to download an app to his phone, and the controller has a space for the phone to sit. You can watch what the camera is filming in real time!

For dinner, Mom and Dad got the biggest pizza that I have ever seen. I wish I had taken a picture of it! I kid you not – This was a 24-INCH pizza. Wow! The slices were so big, you had to fold the bottom over to fit it on the plates!

After dinner, Al filmed some more. Dad set up a bonfire in the yard next to the pond. Mom and Mia fished for a while, using a lighted bobber! Nick brought his guitar, so we spent a good while around the fire, attempting to sing classic songs. And, of course, s’mores!



Mom and Mia fishing.

Mom and Mia fishing.

Selfie :)

Selfie 🙂

Nick strumming along.

Nick strumming along.

We capped off Saturday with the Doctor Who premiere!

It was an awesome weekend. It was tiring though! There’s always something new to do. The garage is getting closer and closer to completion!

Staunton River State Park is only three miles away. Al and I left around 10:00 on Sunday morning. When we called Mom to check in later on, the crew had gone to the park to walk the trails and let Mia explore the gigantic playground!

I look forward to the next visit.

Until then, here’s the video, titled Above The Farm, that Al put together! His new quadcopter is AWESOME! Al also brought his Canon camera, and set up a nice time-lapse of the bonfire.

Check it out – Let us know what you think!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #16: Building A Capsule Wardrobe

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

As some of you may know, I love my friend Megan’s blog, Freckled Italian.

She has a series called “What I Wore” that I love. Her style is amazing!

Back in July, she published an awesome post! Check it out: What I Wore 51: Restyling Old Clothes

In this post, Megan talked about the concept of a “capsule wardrobe.”

I’ve been curious about this for a while. So, I Googled it. So many links, and photos!

All of these links were super interesting, but they center around one concept:

Less is definitely more.

Right now, I struggle immensely with the sheer amount of clothes and shoes that I have. Like Megan has expressed in her posts and comments, I do like getting rid of things to reduce clutter, but I always find myself debating whether or not I will ever use that particular item ever again. It’s tough!

Thanks to Megan, I bought a book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’m so glad I bought this book at this point in my life. I’m starting to read it now, and as I read, I will be applying it to getting ready to combine my life with Al’s, and then when we combine our lives when we marry, and then apply it again when we get our own house!

Watch for a book review on that one!

Anyway, back to this capsule wardrobe concept.

I like the idea of setting a number of items that you have. It forces you to look really hard at what you have, and make some hard decisions.

Thinking of my closet right now, it’s organized, but it feels like it’s busting at the seams, particularly with shoes!

On top of my closet, I have NINE dresser drawers that are full, containing everything from T-shirts to jeans to workout clothes, and everything in between.

On top of all that, I have a huge 66-quart storage bin in my parents’ storeroom that has most of my fall/winter clothes!

Whew! I’m exhausted already!

As I read through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I am going to evaluate every piece of clothing and every pair of shoes that I own. I am also going to do the same thing with jewelry.

I have a bunch of bags and boxes ready to donate to various local charities, with a particular focus on Blankets For The Homeless, and I hope this journey will only add to that. I want to help as many people as possible.

Everything else that doesn’t directly benefit the local homeless, that’s all going to Goodwill.

Look for a follow-up post soon!

I look forward to this journey – I feel lighter just thinking about it.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Hampton Roads Edition (Bridal Shower #2 And Being A Big Sister)

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

During the weekend of August 22nd, I was honored as a bride. I was also honored to be a supportive Big sister.

My parents are in our church’s handbell choir. One of the members, Linda, offered to host a bridal shower. Sue, the director, was such a gracious co-hostess! That Saturday was a gorgeous day. I felt so loved!

The amazing table! Linda and Sue are beautiful decorators.

The amazing table! Linda and Sue are beautiful decorators. And the food! It was delicious!

Our future guest room has a travel / passport theme. Val, who is British, thought it was appropriate to gift the Union Jack pillow!

Our future guest room has a travel / passport theme. Val, who is British, thought it was appropriate to gift the Union Jack pillow!

L to R: Linda, Dea, Suzie, Janie, Michaela Leigh, Cindy, LB, Karen, Lucy, and Val. Sue took the photo.

L to R: Linda, Debbie, Dea, Suzie, Janie, Michaela Leigh, Cindy, LB, Karen, Lucy, and Val. Sue took the photo!

It was such a wonderful shower. We received so many amazing cards, gifts, and especially recipes! I am even more ready for my own house so Al and I can make so much delicious food together.

Thank you to everyone!

Remember earlier, how I said I was honored to be a Big sister? I’m talking about being a big sister to my amazing Little, Lane.

L to R: Al, LB, and Lane.

L to R: Al, LB, and Lane.

She’s an amazing woman. There are so many things that I can say about her. I’ve loved her since we met at Longwood, and I’ve loved her even more since we became Big and Little Sister because of Alpha Sigma Tau.

Lane is leaving tomorrow, to embark on a new journey. She’ll be in boot camp for the next several months. She is such a courageous woman. Enlisting in the Navy is a huge commitment, and I am full of pride and joy. You are awesome!

We celebrated at Red Robin, among amazing friends. It was such a wonderful time! I’m so glad you loved the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 mixtape necklace – I loved your reaction!

Little, I am so proud of you!! I miss you already. I can’t wait to write to you!

As I write this, I feel so full of love and warmth. I’m so happy to be in the company of so many amazing people. Words can’t accurately describe how blessed I feel. I am so grateful.

Thank you to all!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #10: “American Gun Control Rant”

Disclaimer: This post contains strong language.

Thanks to my friends Justin and Steph, I watched this video earlier this week:

After watching it, I shared it on Facebook. My tagline with the post read:

“Take eight minutes out of your day and watch this. It’s almost embarrassing that the British get this and know it better.”

“The Last Leg”

Steph, who is British, was the one who originally posted the video. Her tagline was:

“To my American friends … surely this makes sense???”

The show, called “The Last Leg,” airs every Friday live. They have a popular YouTube channel as well.

According to Steph, the show started a few years ago, focusing on the Paralympics. Adam Hill, the guy ranting, is an Australian comedian with one leg. Alex Brooker, sitting on the right side of the sofa, also has a missing leg. Josh Widdicombe is another comedian, who happens to hail from an area close to where Steph is from.

She loves the show and highly recommends it. They also do other topics. Example – They mock ISIS in a weekly feature called the “Ghadi Spot.” They always mention someone who’s been a dick. They also did a bit with Greece on their economy through Jeremy Kyle, sort of like Jerry Springer, which Steph thought was “brilliant.”

She posted links to the Greece situation sketch, and another titled “Following Donald Trump With A Tuba.”

Key Points

Watching the “American Gun Control Rant,” several key points stuck out to me:

  • “Between 1966 and 2012, the U.S.A., which has 5 percent of the world’s population, has had 31 percent of the world’s mass public shootings.”
  • “The United States of Ammunition … Turns Out Guns Do Kill People”
  • “You can’t change the Constitution … If only there was some way of amending the Constitution … I don’t know, some kind of amendment … Like the 33 amendments that have been made … Even the right to bear arms is an amendment …”
  • (Discussing the fact that the shooter of the Virginia reporter and cameraman filmed and uploaded the shooting) ” … Do you go for the sensational angle, or the tasteful one?”
  • There are no age restrictions on news websites. One of the guys gave an example if that you were 11-years-old, you could go on a news website and automatically watch the footage of the man shooting the reporter and cameraman, but that same 11-year-old can’t buy a ticket to a PG-13 movie like Pitch Perfect 2. Then the guy added, “which is a shame, because it was a delightful movie …”
  • Journalism is actually contributing to the problem.
  • Adam amended the national anthem on our behalf, which was painful to hear, yet hilarious at the same time!

The entire video was a good laugh. They are a funny group, for sure. However, they also gave me a healthy dose of reality.


On Steph’s post, Justin wrote, almost immediately:

“When our recent President got elected, every fucking paranoid asshole got scared he would take their guns and gun sales shot through the roof, no pun intended. America is a paranoid nation and our major news media only makes it worse, specifically Fox News. This makes total sense Steph. People are always scared of a bad man with a gun coming to get them and that the way to stop them is with a gun. Yeah except a gunman won’t be all ‘I’m going to come here at this time and kill people. You have 10 seconds to prep for it.’ He just will show unexpectedly and kill people. Sure people carrying can kill him back but the fact is I don’t want my Saturday at the mall ruined by some nut who decided to shoot the place up. Even if he fired off 1 bullet and then got killed, it still makes it a terrifying experience that could have been avoided. I say keep the guns for the military and law enforcement. Civilians shouldn’t have them, or at least they can with strict ass laws but I’m doubtful of that. What is it like in Britain over there? I heard your country really cracked down on them. Now yes crime will always find a way, but laws can make it a bit easier to sleep at night without worrying of a gunshot in the dark. And about the TV reporters who got shot, there are conspiracy people already saying it’s a hoax to de-arm America. I am not shitting you.”

To me, Justin hit the nail on the head. We are paranoid, and the media just stirs the pot. I majored in Communication Studies with a concentration in Mass Media in college. I’m glad I did, because I am far more suspicious of any media now. To quote Professor Halliday, I always have my bullshit meter out and aimed.

Britain vs. The U.S.

According to Steph, apparently only one specific section of the police carry arms. In general, though, “coppers” don’t carry guns, but they do have tasers, although that issue was debated heavily. Gun crimes do happen in Britain, just not nearly as often. It’s also a crime to “use/carry imitation guns.” Apparently, in Britain, the biggest issue is knife crimes.

Steph wrote:

” … Like you Justin I think it should be the right for military or police to carry weapons. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a teacher in the US having to lock down because some nutter has decided to go on a killing spree.”

Steph’s reply made me think of this: Teacher credited with calming West Virginia teen hostage taker

Treating Guns Like Cars

I also jumped in, writing:

“This was amazing, Steph. Thanks for sharing with Justin, who shared it with me. I have shot several types of guns in the past, and I have learned about gun safety and how to handle a weapon properly. I agree with Justin – Guns belong with the military and law enforcement. If you want a gun, you should have to go through a process like you would to drive a car. I saw that comparison online today. So many people stand behind ‘the right to bear arms.’ I’m all for patriotism, but I’m definitely not okay with the amount of violence that guns are used for. I live the Hampton Roads area, and it makes me sick to see a new shooting on the news almost every single night.”

This is the comparison I was referencing:

I thought this idea was brilliant.

I personally don’t think that this will ever happen in the U.S., due to the National Rifle Association and people standing by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution …

HOWEVER, it’s certainly nice to think about.

Imagine a world …


The comments briefly shifted to self-defense with a comment that Steph made. I brought up the Trayvon Martin case that came out of Florida in 2012.

But, that’s a whole other conversation, with “stand your ground” laws, and self-defense in general.


Steph wrote:

“Do you think your country is becoming desensitised (sic) with the regularity of shootings? It’s awful and a wonder that there has been no stop to it. I would feel shit scared to fall asleep at night. Could start cycle of am scared so have gun to protect myself from someone with a gun?

Justin and I both agreed, immediately.

I wrote:

“Oh absolutely. I fully believe we are desensitized. As they said in the post we have had so many mass shootings since Columbine in 1999. I know people who have guns for protection. And I’ve heard of cases where people have guns for “protection,” and then either they get killed or someone in their family gets killed because one of their young children gets a hold of and it’s loaded.”

Steph replied:

“Sheer madness!”

Justin wrote:

“YES!!! We totally are desensitized with it. You live your whole life in a nation that shoots people every day and you will start to see it, sadly, as a part of every day life. I hear you on the knife crimes. I have a friend who was in Britain and was mugged by a guy with one. Scary thought. The case about the Uzi was something I remember. There was no fucking reason that girl should have been using it or trying to fire it. That gun kicks like a horse and without a good tight grip it would have gone everywhere. Sadly she didn’t have that and now that man is dead. I love this video that you shared Steph, just a bit disappointed as well, that people from other countries look at us and go ‘Wow you guys really need to get your shit together.'”

The Uzi case we referenced: Child firing Uzi at Arizona shooting range accidentally kills instructor 

Celebrating Zero Deaths

Justin also recalled the day that New York City celebrated no violent crime for 24 hours.

It was Monday, November 26, 2012.

Ironically, the only credible source that I could find with a link to this story was the BBC …

Either way, that article also referenced a graph of global murder rates (per 100,000). The U.S., based on a 2011 study, ranked 8th out of 11 measured global areas. New York was slightly higher than the overall U.S. murder rate. However, at the time of the study, Caracas, Guatemala City, San Salvador, Port-au-Prince, Bogotá, and Sao Paulo were all higher than New York and the U.S. Beneath the U.S. were the cities of Moscow, Paris, and London.

Mental Illness

Then Will chimed in, writing:

” … The main problem that needs to be looked at is mental illness. That’s the root of the problem. Sure, guns end up in the wrong hands of people. Maybe it is too easy. And I think Justin already pointed out that even with gun control, bad people can still get guns. Or use a knife. Or use a bomb. But that’s just it. Gun control is not going to eliminate guns from bad people’s hands. Only law-abiding citizens are going to abide by the law! You don’t take care of a wart by picking at it. You get to the root of the problem. I’m not saying that’s an easy solution but it’s something our govt (sic) needs to address. Unfortunately we stand to make more money on pharmaceuticals. And of course, Hitler, Stalin, Mao forced people to turn over their guns in our past. Millions upon millions killed. Not saying that’s going to happen again but as they say, if you don’t know your history you’re doomed to repeat it.

And I understand liberals hate Fox news, and I’m not saying they’re perfect (I don’t even bother with the news on tv) but let’s not pretend MSNBC, CNN, etc aren’t just as bad if not worse. And though I was hoping to find credible numbers to back this up Fox News has had better ratings than MSNBC, CNN, etc. You can dice that any way you want. Personally they’re all bad as the other.”

Justin replied:

” … As far as mental illness is concerned, yeah that’s a huge issue too. The biggest one to date. Mentally insane people are dangerous enough, when they get a hold of dangerous things it makes things worse. But people in this country are way too inclined to throw them in jail or shoot them instead of addressing their illness and getting them the help they deserve. It’s an underfunded thing, and it needs to change.”

Recap – My Thoughts, Overall

  • “The Last Leg” — Thanks to Steph and Justin, I’m hooked. I look forward to watching previous episodes and enjoying newer ones. I have a greater appreciation for British humor and comedy, although this video in particular was a bit painful to watch, because everything these guys said was absolutely fucking true. Get your shit together, America!
  • Comments — It was fascinating to see the long string of comments on Steph’s post. I re-read them all to write this piece. I’m happy that a conversation, albeit small, was started on Facebook. I hope this blog post inspires more conversation. The news media has put a terrible spin on guns, gun control, and mental illness – All of them are guilty. It’s time for real conversations between the people who live in this country.
  • Britain vs. The U.S. — It’s fucking embarrassing that the U.S., once again, is behind our countries, on yet another key issue. Again, get your shit together, America!
  • Treating Guns Like Cars — This concept, to me, is fucking brilliant. We all have specific rules to follow in order to drive cars, motorcycles, boats, 18-wheelers, and other vehicles. Why can’t similar rules be applied to guns?! It makes so much damn sense. Granted, in my comments, I stated that guns should be left to the military and law enforcement. I stand by that statement. However, I think that if a non-military, non-law enforcement citizen wants to own a gun, then there should be crystal clear, upheld rules that must be followed to get one and to keep one. Across the board, federal rules. No fucking exceptions!
  • Self-Defense — This is still murky, and the Trayvon Martin case blew self-defense and “stand your ground” laws out of the shadows and into the international spotlight three years ago. This issue needs to be universal across the entire U.S. This is something that the Supreme Court should decide, not be left up to the states.
  • Desensitized — Like the comments above, this is because of the ridiculous amount of media coverage. My local news stations almost always lead their broadcasts, day in and day out, with the latest shooting or the latest death by gunshot wound. I hate it, I fucking hate it. I barely pay any attention while on the treadmill at the gym at 5:30 in the morning, and I ONLY seek out the online stories if the locations are close to me or my family. It makes me sick. It’s a fucking ratings game, that’s all it is. Hence why I studied Mass Media, but decided to not go into reporting or broadcasting.
  • Celebrating Zero Deaths — This was certainly intriguing when the story broke. However, it’s actually very sad. It only lasted one day, in one major city in the U.S. All around the country, there are countless shootings in so many cities, large and small, every single day. Sure, the major cities get covered. And more recently, we’ve learned about the losses of police officers, TV reporters, state troopers, college students, and children.
  • Mental Illness — Like the comments above, this is a HUGE issue. And it’s a damn shame that it’s an issue, because it simply shouldn’t be. However, there are so many pieces that need to be fixed. Example: There have been several reports, in Hampton Roads and in the state of Virginia, where no beds were available at mental health facilities for those in need, in times of true crisis (Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds’ son, Gus, in November 2013; and in Portsmouth, Jamycheal Mitchell, in August 2015). In the last fourteen years, I have known four people who have died by suicide, and at least two of those died due to self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The stigma needs to end. These people are simply crying out for help. They deserve that help. They deserve the very best facilities and the very best people and the very best care to help them get better.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂