Veteran in hospice: HCV stage 4 liver failure

We know HCV-infected veterans are suffering all over the country.  One, Mike Blackburn, was not tested for HCV until last year.  His story is told in an official military e-newsletter (Redstone Arsenal, AL). 

Blackburn, 62, has hepatitis C virus with stage 4 liver failure. A few weeks ago he was placed on hospice with 3-6 months life expectancy. His diagnosis of hepatitis C didn’t come until Aug. 10, 2014, just six days before his 62nd birthday, when he went to the hospital with severe stomach pain.

This should not have happened.  If he doesn’t make it, he’ll be leaving behind his wife of 35 years, 3 daughters, and one grandson.  So upsetting.  We’re sending prayers for a transplant or treatment for Mike although either would be a miracle at this point. But life-saving miracles are worth praying for.  I’m still in awe of Capt. Sullenberger’s decision to ditch a jet-full of people on the Hudson River years ago and save everyone.

I wish Capt. Sullenberger was leading the VA.  I doubt if he would have remained silent on the HCV military epidemic for decades.  I’m pretty sure he would have dealt with the realities rather than covering them up.  Like Sullenberger, Mike’s family, ASKNODers, and others who don’t like giving up, we’ll keep working to help everyone we can.


Image: PD Creative Commons

Posted in All about Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, HCV Health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


Great_Seal_of_the_United_States_(obverse).svgIn response to the most recent atrocity in Tennessee by a troubled young American, the Federal Government today announced plans to erect safe rooms at all federal facilities. Called the “Quiver in place” Program, the newly designed safe rooms will be impervious to assault much like the successful model used recently by the State Department in Benghazi, Libya to protect our Ambassador. Citing the recent plethora of attacks both here and abroad, the government is finally acting. Rather than attempt to arm and empower military personnel everywhere with woefully little or no training in firearms, the Attorney General asserts safe rooms will substantially solve the problem. Confrontations with “religiously motivated” citizens will be defused as well.

After the Fort Hood debacle where an angry Army Major acted out and expressed his dissatisfaction with an imminent deployment to his former country of birth, the need to control military access to firearms in America has been recognized as a pressing problem. One can imagine the slaughter if every Private Tom, Dick and Harry had access to a fully automatic assault rifle, let alone unfettered access to ammunition in large quantities while stationed stateside. A simple misunderstanding over a girlfriend could lead to bloodshed at the drop of a helmet. Fortunately for us, the government realized this danger shortly after troops began arriving home from Vietnam and swiftly acted by locking up the guns. Authorities cite to that as proof that very few troops have resorted to this barbarism since.

Following the cessation of hostilities in Korea , it has been standard practice not to issue ammo to troops there on the off chance they might irresponsibly reignite a conflict. Peace-loving North Koreans might get the wrong impression if they perceived we were armed with live ammo. In the same vein, the far thinkers here at military installations across our fruited plain envisioned havoc if rank and file troops were allowed to possess guns and ammo in a peacetime setting-even privately. As for the Fort Hood murders, the government pointed out that the system worked as intended. The private, armed civilian police contracted for by the Army were quick to respond and authorities pointed out that 13 casualties were insignificant when compared to the total number of Army personnel present on base that day. Officials have insisted the slaughter could have been far worse but for the presence of level-headed private security trained in the use firearms.

thTaking their cue from prior experience, Blackwater Industries® was was recently awarded a contract to instruct Military recruiters at far-flung stateside outposts in how to deal with these exigencies. Noted contractor Halliburton Industries will be pairing with them for the physical construction of the safe rooms. In the meantime, Blackwater’s training manuals will instruct recruiters on what to do in these situations. Until the rooms are constructed, personnel will be taught to lie prostrate and grovel before their attackers while begging and pleading for mercy. Keeping both hands empty and in view coupled with avoiding eye contact has also proven to save lives.  Recruiters have also been admonished to refrain from bringing their own personal weapons to the job site for fear innocent bystanders may be shot accidentally in the heat of the moment. Armed recruiters might be inadvertently confused with the alleged miscreants and risk being shot as well by first responders  according to government sources who wish to remain nameless. How a uniformed Marine might be mistaken for a civilian protester was not addressed by the official.

A small pilot program to arm the recruiters with sidearms in Wyoming was considered but the danger of accidental discharge due to lack of training in a combat environment was cited as the downside. Other concerns revolved around the potential for escalations of domestic violence, the public perception of military personnel as racist, gun-toting crazies and glorifying gratuitous combat. Authorities note that with the new paradigm of Social Media, all it would take to ignite a situation would be “a bad hair day” or a perceived slight on Facebook.

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Chicago, baby!

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently pointed out the ever-escalating proliferation of guns in the United States are leading to bloodshed in unheard of numbers. Having the government be proactive and take the first steps to rein in this “arming of America” is an encouraging action and will go far in reducing gun violence. As proof, Mayor Bloomberg cited the strict, austere gun laws on the books in Chicago, Illinois and their calming effect on the populace by the virtual absence of firearms in the inner city.

Construction companies owned by disabled Veterans will be encouraged to submit bids to Halliburton, and indeed, given the ‘first shot’ at contracts. VA is working closely with them in hopes of reducing Veteran unemployment numbers and feel this is a win-win situation. Former VA spokeswoman Sharon Hellman was quoted as saying “When the world hands you lemons, it’s best to partner with Halliburton and make lemonade. That’s why I work for them now.”

We’ll keep you posted on this story as we do with all top notch asknod-researched subjects. For lack of a better handle, call it asknod’s fractured faerytales.

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345_Dustoff_Patch_tshirtI have been asked to attend and speak at the upcoming prestigious VDA 2015 reunion in the Los Angeles suburb of San Diego. There, along the Pacific Ocean,  Cupcake and I will meet a close cadre of  Vietnam Vets who flew into LZs with absolutely no regard for their own lives. To add injury to insult, they did it in Hueys with a really nice bullseye painted on the sides in red and white. 

Ignore for the minute the idea of clearly and colorfully marking your A/C to conform with Geneva Conventions Protocols. The mere absence of the door gunner(s)/rockets was a dead giveaway anyway. Add to that the obvious shortcomings of rotary wing aircraft in an environment where you did not enjoy tactical air superiority (read free-fire zone) and you had a recipe for lots of room temp. friendlies-and their patients.

I’m no stranger to high casualty statistics but that metric is predicated on combat-not rescue. The statistics for SAR were even higher over the fence from what I gathered at the time. Signing up to fly in Dustoffs would, to me, have almost been a guaranteed death wish. This is why I look forward to meeting the gentlemen of this profession. Their bravery under fire is a potent talisman. These Vets are lucky. Not rabbit foot lucky. Not “Holy Shit Batman” lucky. Not even Lotto Lucky. We’re talking Vets who could walk through a shooting gallery at Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth and remain unscathed.

tumblr_lyj0c1VFTK1r0che3o1_500Having said that, I’m sure there were a lot of Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars and Air medals but few DFCs or Silver Stars handed out to our combat medics/chopper crews. Seems the guys who do the shooting always got the glory but the guys in the meatwagons were the ones who swept up the broken glass. Now, in retrospect, we worry more about our corn and tomatoes or grandchildren and less about medals. Until Starbucks starts giving me a discount on a smokin’ mocha for  my V’s, it doesn’t pencil anyway. Nevertheless, I personally know the inner pride I’ll always carry after attending this reunion and embracing like-minded Veterans even if they’re rotorheads.

Veterans of the Vietnam Boundary Dispute are getting old. Unless you were born in  June 1957 and got a pink slip daddy to enlist at 17, you missed the party. For all you guys at the AL/VFW bars, that means if you’re not at least 58 and one of the Few and the Proud on guard duty at the US Embassy in Saigon in late April 1975, then you weren’t there. Period.   The numbers show 855,000 ± 5 K of us . That’s a mighty small group of folks forty five years later. The inexorable march of time and the deleterious effects of Agents Orange, Blue, Pink, White, Purple and Green have struck down many. Add to it the insidious diseases of Chronic Hepatitis B, autoimmune Hepatitis as well as Hepatitis C. Together, they combine to  kill us before our time. These, to name just a few. I won’t go into the dismal statistics of Bent Brain Syndrome and homelessness. I trust the VA will come out with some new statistics and a catchy phrase to put a smiley face on it. My favorites are

Homeless–And Free to Move About The Country

Homeless Vets-Boldly Going Nowhere Medicated

Homeless Veterans- Fiercely Independent

The Few, The Proud, The Homeless Vets

Be there or be square, ladies and gentlemen. Here’s the skinny:

Posted in All about Veterans, Inspirational Veterans, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dry mouth? VA Formulary has artificial saliva

My old Marine has been spending a small fortune on Biotene products to deal with dry mouth, a condition that probably began during HCV treatment (PDF download –12 page report) and worsened due to two medications he takes and needs.  He’s been complaining about the condition (via VA Secure Messaging) but offered no relief.


The Biotene oral spray (1.5 oz) has been sold out at local stores for a few weeks so I decided to search the VA Formulary tool (LINK) for something. The VA does not issue Biotene.  But a glimmer of hope: artificial saliva.  Boy, that sounds disgusting. 

salivaThey only carry a liquid.  Is it a rinse?  We’ll find out soon enough.  Again, using Secure Messaging, a request to his PC doc for “artificial saliva” resulted in a positive response.  In the meantime, we’ve ordered some products from Amazon Prime including a new spray called Spry Rain Oral Spray (bigger bottle) and contains Xylitol–which is supposed to be good.

Dry mouth creates all sorts of oral/dental problems.  A few weeks ago, my husband asked his VA PC doc for a referral to be classified by the dental service.  His doc called him up and told him that be couldn’t because his dental problems weren’t service connected. However, the Dental Care Fact Sheet (IB 10-442) lists over six classifications and we are pretty darn sure that all veterans in VA care have the right to have the dental service review a veterans medical records and be issued a classification. We are going to let this slide for now and will deal with it after our big move next week.

I am surprised at the dearth of dry mouth relief products that the VA provides considering veterans need them after radiation and other treatments and over 400 meds (NIH fact sheet) can cause it. It looks like some folks are mixing up their own solutions to avoid the rip-off pricing of products that mainly expensive water with a few additives.  Anyone currently getting dental services from the VA?  Do they provide dry mouth products that are not on the VA formulary?

Thanks for any dry mouth tips for ASKNOD readers you can share because I guess the VA didn’t get this message :  FDA:  Dry Mouth?  Don’t Delay Treatment.


Posted in All about Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, HCV Health, Uncategorized, vA news | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments


va_sealOnly at 810 VArmit Ave. NW 20420 could anyone with an IQ over 75 come up with this plan. 318,000 Vets on TDIU (Total Disability due to Individual Unemployment) … nationwide… in the whole VBA system. Did I mention it was as high as 318,000 disabled Veterans who were receiving this largesse? That sounds like millions upon billions of dollars are being handed out at the VBA candy store. That dog won’t hunt for any number of reasons but let’s take a gander at the numbers.

Numbers are neat. Numbers are orderly and easy to remember. When attached to geographical landmarks, psychiatrists say it ( i.e. a call sign or radio frequency)  creates a strong sight/mind/location node  that accepts more data such as numbers.  They can substantiate this via data. 118.9 mhz was tower approach @ Long Tieng Airpatch. It was always the same valley with that “vertical speed brake” at the end if you came in hot and heavy and didn’t use all 3,120 feet of the active runway. It was also the busiest one way runway this side of Tokyo International in 1970. You didn’t land unless you took a number. And you did that by making sure you were on 118.9 and not 118.1 for Sam Thong -one valley over.  It sure didn’t rise to the Presidential level of “Well that all depends on what the meaning of megahertz (mhz) is.” Now that we have numbers clear, Let’s Count the numbers as they say over at Sesame Street®.

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First, we have to jettison any hopes of saving a large amount that can be diverted to repair the fallout from the Phoenix Phiasco and the Biggest Little ER in the West in Denver. Every one of the Vets who are moving toward “retirement” and TDIU are retiring prematurely because they are damaged goods. VA has never comprehended this simple metric. The number of Veterans who are willing to jump through endless hoops-sometimes for years like a denied SSD claim- is finite. The vast majority of us come from proud stalwart stock and “going on relief”, as we used to say, was akin to welfare fraud. Everyone in my family on both sides was probably in one of America’s wars since its inception. Everyone was in WWII. Well, everyone but  any TDIU Vets, probably. I don’t recall who was disabled or drew a pension. My grandfather on my father’s side lived out his last years at the LA Old Soldiers Home. He probably was TDIU- perhaps Not Service Connected (NSC)Pension. The point being is that there are “certifiable” TDIU who are not worker bee material. I know that an Agent Orange Presumptive  like Diabetes Mellitus II can wipe you out with all the peripherals (PN, ED, HBP, etc) without ever reaching a singular 100% schedular rating for one and only one of the individual secondary diseases/injuries. This is what TDIU was always there for-a cushion, a fallback position for He who shall have borne the battle. Congress gave us this safety valve.

The Pike’s Peak Hill climb to TDIU Nirvana is steep. You have to get there in fits and spurts. No one ever technically summits the top. The reason is simple. Your back is toast from jumping out of perfectly good aircraft to impress your girlfriend/wife thirty years ago. The rating for Parachute Back Syndrome ends mysteriously at 60%. Same for the knees. Sorry, Johnny Vet. 40% each but we’ll toss in 10% more for bilateral because we’re nonadversarial. Of course, when you can’t walk anymore, we’ll bump you up to SMC L-assuming you last that long.

To obtain TDIU, you have to pass a ratings test. If you have a 40% rating in one category and others that add up to a cumulative total of 70%, you are now ready to audition for TDIU. Likewise, if you only boogered up your back and got 60%, that, too, is a winning ticket to the next round of refusals.

See the expected booty beginning to evaporate? A 60% rating pulls in $1156.09/mo. for you and the missus. $1227.09 for  one each fruit of your loins. No one can operate and feed a youth for $61  considering they have to have designer underwear and Iphones®.  Same for 70% ($1530.71/ mo and it pays $91/mo. for the rugmonster) A TDIU rating is an equivalent payment of a 100% rating which pays out a whopping $3068.90 a month… for 12 months of the year. So if we tally up what a fellow would legitimately get at 60 or 70% and subtract that from the perceived savings of eliminating TDIU entirely, the amount is earthshatteringly well,  nothing. Assuming the worst case scenario that all them slackers were at 70%, the savings pencil whips out to a rough $1,500 bucks a Vet or $477,000 per month nationwide. It would be slightly less for those real lollygaggers who are at 60%. This way, at five million a year in savings, they can finish the Denver Spa by 2197.

It’s a sad day when The GAO finds substantial savings are to be had on the backs of 100% Disabled Vets who are hanging on by a thread and living in dire poverty. Only in America, ladies and gentlemen. And apparently only to We who bore the Battle. Lands, I hope to smile the DAV and the American Legion blew an ass gasket over this. I’m sure all the other 49 VSOs will all weigh in very soon and evoke the same sentiments. And then The Donald will opine on it.

Posted in KP Veterans, TDIU, VA Medical Mysteries Explained, vA news, VA statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


imagesImagine. Another reversal from Brother Greenberg up at the Big House at 625 Native Americana Ave, NW. This one, while a single judge memorandum, is still valuable and very notable for several reasons we will see. Most importantly, it points up what are considered chronic diseases vs. ones we clearly have to show are chronic via medical history. Worse, the decision points up the lengths VA examiners will go to in order to support a denial. 

Meet Christopher D. Louderback, squid extraordinaire from 1994-1998. He was a steelworker and probably did some heavy lifting judging from the plethora of back injuries he suffered in service (3 documented). I think its a miracle he didn’t fry his liver with all the Motrin they were shoving down his pie hole. As with most of these back things, he had a new injury shortly after separating at a new job. He was probably trying to make a good impression and lift far too much. Being in a civilian medical setting, they did an extensive workup this time and discovered a herniated disc.

The Chrismeister did exactly as he had been instructed at separation. If you have any injuries/diseases in service, file muy pronto. A check on his timeline shows DOS of February 1998. Date of claim filing was July-August 1998- five or six months later and well within the magic year limit for SC from separation. He got the dog and pony show in October 98 and mystery of mysteries, he was denied the following spring in March 1999. Seems they misplaced his STRs. As we all know. in cases like this, the M 21 moves to the default setting- no records equates quite simply with “It didn’t happen and we don’t believe you”. At least they didn’t insist the records burned up in 1973 at the NPRC.

In 2001,  almost three years later, they finally laid hands on the STRs but still denied saying it had absolutely nothing to do with the three noted injuries for the exact same thing in service. I’m not saying he had a VSO but he failed to appeal. End of VA claim. In the meantime his back was headed south in a major way.

In February 2009, things came to a head. He went to a VAMC for verification that he wasn’t just imagining all this. The dx was ugly.

In February 2009, the appellant received treatment at the VA medical center for his back pain and was diagnosed with “chronic lbp [lower back pain], djd [degenerative joint disease] lumbar, migraine headaches.

Chris decided the battle wasn’t over and refiled to reopen this. The Jackson, Mississippi Puzzle Palace immediately sent him their refusal to reopen. Two things stand out in the claim. The BVA denial clearly shows he was pro se and unrepresented. This implies he reopened the claim without any legal help. Chances are he felt as I did in 1989. If the records and STRs are in your c-file , you shouldn’t have to go to great lengths to prove the injury happened in service. VA’s refusal to reopen was predicated on the old saw- “Hey. You didn’t bring us anything new to look at.” True enough but the wrong legal standard was employed back in 1998 at the outset. This was before the Walker decision that eviscerated 38 CFR 3.303(b) so he should have gotten a shot at it from that angle as well as 3.303(a). In reality, 3.309(a) was the salient regulation overlooked by all but Chris. Groves v. Peake was relatively new and he should have ridden in on the coattails of that (injury in service is the same as now unless VA can discern otherwise).

CliffNoteJesusThe last straw in Chris’s mind was when the VA examiner, following another “VA exam”, came to this epiphany. It’s priceless. Somewhere, there must be a Cliff Notes© book for these chowderheads. Nobody could think this stuff up or just stumble upon the cites:

In December 2010, the appellant underwent another VA examination, wherein the examiner diagnosed the appellant with degenerative disc disease of the thoracolumbar spine. The
examiner noted the appellant’s history of back injuries in service but concluded that the appellant’s disability was less likely than not the result of service because medical literature “shows degenerative disc disease as a result of work related cumulative trauma to be a myth,” with the actual relevant factors for etiology being “age, genetics, and intrinsic disc loading (body weight compared with size of disc).” Id. The examiner explained that “[w]hile back sprains or strains involve[] the muscles and ligaments (soft tissues) of the spinal region, spondylosis is a degenerative process involving the disc and ve[r]tebral bodies,” and thus found that the appellant’s current low back condition is less likely than not caused by or the result of the back condition that occurred during active duty.

The reader will note this is the first time Mr. Louderback has been diagnosed with spondylosis. To date, he had carried numerous diagnoses including LBP (lower back pain), herniated disc, degenerative joint disease (DJD), lumbago and spinal degenerative joint disease. Be sure you note this in the “how to argue with VA” techniques. When they go off the reservation with a bogus “diagnosis”, look for a completely different disease process akin to this as the root of the problem. This is one of the oldest ricks in the VA’s three-card Monte game.

Many of us fall down the same rabbit hole on VA claims. It begins when you assume VA is there for you. Not. After you have disabused yourself of  the fallacy of that presumption, the next problem is that many depend on their records as proof of the claim. Again, not.

He stated that he did not actively feel back pain when he was discharged, and assumed the records of injuries during service were self-explanatory. He also stated that he filed his claim for “lower back” because he “figured that would cover it all.

Meet Dr. Louderback, MD

Meet Dr. Louderback, MD

Always remember Espiritu v. Derwinski.  Miz Jovita Espiritu was the first on record before the CAVC ( then the COVA) to adorn herself with a stethoscope and do the Dr. Kildare imitation. It fell flat. Likewise, why should Mr. Louderback be expected to specialize in orthopaedic medicine? He was the recipient of the injury and merely grasped at words he was familiar with to describe his malady. Poor Bill Clemons ran int this problem too and it took a panel to straighten out that he lacked a doctorate in psychology-and thus was poorly situated in his ability to diagnose his mental illness.

This precedence doesn’t faze the ratings wizards at the Fort Fumbles across our fruited plain. They merely nod, shout “Onward through the fog!” and proceed to employ the same tired technique using the same defective logic to deny. Sadly, VLJ Marjorie Auer’s staff attorney followed suit and top sheeted Chris’ SOC. In virtually the same language, they reread the tea leaves, cast dem bones and arrived at a similar nuanced decision that

“[t]he[v]eteran’s complaints of back pain service were related to muscles and ligaments (soft tissues), and are unrelated to the current [degenerative disc disease], spondylosis, and the [herniated disc] discovered within one year of service following a non-military shipyard injury.”


All-seeing, all-knowing VA Examiners

This was almost as predictable as a Hepatitis C appeal. Those all focus on behaviour such as sexual promiscuity (five or more one-night stands in thirty years)-always following service as the cause for the infection. The Vet could have had five cases of  clap documented in his contemporary STRs as “gram positive” and VA would blithely gloss over this to pounce on the post-service events. It must be nice to be prescient and just know that these things are true. You’d think VA would have to pay them exorbitant wages for having such a talent.

The downfall of the logic and the basis for the reversal is actually more nuanced. In their rush to explain that the injury was not service connected, VLJ Auer stepped on the hem of her skirt and did a major legal faceplant.

Arthritis is listed in § 3.309(a) as a chronic disease. The appellant was diagnosed with “djd [degenerative joint disease] lumbar” in February 2009, and “the term osteoarthritis is a synonym of the terms degenerative arthritis and degenerative joint disease.” Greyzck v. West, 12 Vet.App. 288, 291 (1999) (citing STEDMAN’S MEDICAL DICTIONARY 1267 (26th ed. 1995)). The December 2010 examiner also described the appellant’s current disability as “spondylosis . . . a degenerative process involving the disc and ve[r]tebral bodies”  and “spondylosis” is defined as “degenerative spinal changes due to osteoarthritis.” DORLAND’S at 1754. Because multiple pieces of medical evidence indicate that the appellant’s low back syndrome includes osteoarthritis, the Court will reverse the Board’s erroneous finding that the appellant’s disability was not listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) and remand the matter for the Board to consider the application of 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(b) and § 3.307(a).

You have to watch that spondylosis or it will come back and bite you on the ass, Marjorie. It also helps to have a working knowledge of 38 CFR if you want to play judge. Here’s the cheat sheet for beating this insanity.

Louderback reversal

Louderback BVA decision

The teaching moment is simple here. When in doubt, pile up all the pertinent regulations that are associated with the claim/appeal and peruse them minutely for application. Discard them only after ascertaining they are inapplicable. VA was in such a rush to manufacture a bulletproof denial they inadvertently committed a clear and unmistakable error. They said he had spondylosis without looking up all the possible definitions of it. Likewise, osteoarthritis and degenerative arthritis. Sadly, this will not be the last time VA’s finest commit this error but  Louderback and Greyzck v. West show you how to avoid the pitfall.

Remember, semantics are not VA’s strong point. They shoot off their mouths and pretend they know it all. When queried in detail, they expound on all manner of irrelevant trivia in a valiant effort to obfuscate. Here, it exploded in their face. I cannot say that Judge Kasold or Davis would have seen it and ruled the same way.  Therein lies the true injustice.

Lastly, a warm thank you to Glen R. Bergman for carrying the water for Mr. Louderback. This was a no brainer but still requires a law dog to navigate the corridors of the CAVC these days. As Glen would have it, he got the luck of the draw with Greenberg, too. That was half the battle in my mind.

Win or Die VA

Posted in BvA Decisions, CAVC ruling, CUE, Important CAVC/COVA Ruling, KP Veterans, Nexus Information | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


CaptureI have been asked to spread the word about a website (FacePlace, where else?) that is selling “fake” Sovaldi. I personally have no direct proof that this is indeed the case but it stands to reason that a sucker is born every day. It’s one of those “by invitation only” sites where you need the secret handshake. Check it out.

It seems like a cruel joke to play on anyone with the disease. It promotes false hope as well as divesting them of funds better spent on true relief. There is no magic panacea to remission of Hepatitis C. This is all the more true if you suffer from Genotypes 1A and 1B. Your chances  with success on Sovaldi alone are between slim and none. Of course, with fake Sovaldi, there is no chance whatsoever.

My Uncle Jay, while he was a Prisoner of War (or guest) of the Japanese during World War II, told me he’d pound aspirin tablets or quinine pills into a .30 calibre shell casing to approximate the shape of a pill to trade with his Japanese prisoners. He told them it was Penicillin so they could treat themselves for syphilis. If Japanese troops in war were that gullible, you can imagine the desperation and the lengths anyone would go to obtain a life-saving drug like Sovaldi. Don’t be one of those suckers born every day.

While it worked for me on a six month regimen, a large reason for my success with Sovaldi was the genotype. I have (or had) Genotype 3A indiginous to the Indochinese Peninsula at the time in 1970. 3A responds well to this all alone in conjunction with Ribavirin. As my autoimmune system is on DEFCON 1, I decided against the riba which is why I was able to do the whole six months.

There is no shortcut to this. I suppose  if you fly to India and are put on a carefully vetted regimen with a real Indian doctor and not a quack, you may be able to get Sovaldi there at a price of $10 a pill. It would still cost you more for the Riba. You would need to do it for six months which multiplies out to $1,680 for the Sovaldi alone. Now think about adding in medical visits, hotel, food and the riba. You’re still going to need some deep pockets and an honest doctor to make this pencil out. They aren’t just going to sell you 168 pills and wish you the best.

My belief is that the price will come down or you should avail yourselves of the Patient Access Network (PAN) as I did and pay it forward after you attain SVR. PAN is more than willing to accept donations. That’s how it works. Medicaid will pick it up in most cases and VA will eventually be able to if they can figure out how. Right now they have a few issues with putting VA’s budget in order and curtailing bonuses. The Phoenix Phiasco is going to haunt them for years to come when they show up on Capitol Hill begging for funding.  And then there’s the problem with VA’s construction arm. Seems they have a few loose nuts in development who can’t figure out a budget or the cost of widgits in Denver.

In short, please do not fall for “cheap” Sovaldi. Please be leery of signing up for a “medical vacation” in Bolivia where Sovoldi grows free on trees. Remember too, if you need it desperately, you can always call Gilead Sciences and plead your case. You’d be amazed to find out they have a heart in spite of all that hooey about them being intractable about price reductions or poverty cases.

There are far more options on the table than it would seem. Don’t opt for the Earl Schieb $99.95 paint job when you can get the real McCoy with a little sleuthing. Remember also that this field of medicine is in its infancy. Within five years this is going to be history. Cancer will undoubtedly be the next triumph. There is no shortcut to SVR. Fortunately, it doesn’t entail the horrors of Interferon now.

Posted in Sofosbuvir | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments