Dr. Taub’s Letter, Winter/Spring 2016 Newsletter
Dear patients, colleagues and friends,
I hope you all enjoyed the relatively warm fall we had! It was a nice gift after the disappointing summer weather.
I was in Vietnam and Cambodia for the Dermatologic & Aesthetic Surgery International League (DASIL) meeting this year – what an experience! We cruised along Halong Bay, a bay made of 1500 small rock/island formations with many caves off the cost of Vietnam near Hanoi. It was quite beautiful, although the ancient mystery of these formations was a bit lost given the number of tourist boats! Both Hanoi and Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) are packed with people on motorbikes and scooters 10-12 abreast, weaving in and out of traffic. There is so little room and so much congestion in the city that for most cars are out of the question (no place to park!). Many ride with kerchiefs over their faces to protect them from dust, diesel and the sun (smart people!). You can see babies asleep on the handlebars in baskets, while their mothers or fathers are out on errands.
Our history there is depressing. We viewed the tunnels where the Viet Cong conducted their guerrilla war – 3 layers of tunnels many as deep as 15 meters, deeper than the bombs reached. The war museum was a harsh diatribe on US involvement. However, the guides there stress that the current regime wants to bury the past (they need our tourist dollars) and they are very happy to see the Navy ships in the South China Sea keeping the Chinese at bay.
Cambodia is much more of a developing country. Many work at government factories (where they make Nike shoes, amongst other things) and get $140 per month (that was after a big demonstration – before they were making $90 per month). It was a good reminder that other than serious health issues many of our daily problems are truly first world problems!
A serious current issue is the rising cost of prescription drugs. We know this affects everyone and it affects our ability to care for you. There is a huge disconnect between physicians and pharmacies, such that there is zero transparency for us regarding what medications will cost for any given person. It used to be that we could choose a generic medication and know that you would get a decent price for something that should work in most situations but now generic medications have undergone huge price increases and this is no longer the case. We often need to send your prescriptions to mail order pharmacies that specialize in getting the best discounts for you. But sometimes even this doesn’t work and we have no idea if you are getting the best price even that way. There is some question about whether these arrangements are ethical – if you have been following the news about Valeant. We have decided to offer you prescriptions via something called Prescriber’s Choice. They make high quality generic materials available to us and we can compound our own medications. What is really great about it is that the prices are very reasonable, such that most medications are $40-60. Although not the $5-15 copays we had in the past, nevertheless this is far better than the hundreds of dollars that are the norm now for most medications. More information in your visits will be forthcoming – know that we want to make it possible for you to follow our directions and get better! Remember to communicate with us – we don’t want you to think that we want you to pay that much for your medications, but we often don’t know unless you call us to tell us.
We have started something called Advanced Dermatology Academy. No, it isn’t a degree but these will be small groups that are open to anyone and will be targeted at giving information about specific concerns or procedures. We will be putting the schedule in each newsletter as well as on our website, Facebook and also you will receive emails to sign up. Hope to see some of you here!
Have a great winter season,