Serpent profiteers: how a summer camp snakebite turned into a $142,938 medical bill

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This is the $1 acetaminophen tablet scam turned up to 11. In most hospitals, the pharmacy is the one reliable profit engine that keeps the rest of the thing afloat. Add in the captive population (not like you can go comparison shopping for antivenin or clot busters or whatever in the midst of an emergency) and the temptation to gouge on meds is just too much to resist if you are focused on the bottom line. Even “nonprofit” hospitals these days are pretty much bottom line focused.


Oakley Yoder

Save Oakley Yoder!

The health insurance and pharma industries have created an entirely independent self-serving market ecosystem that grows outside the bounds of real, actual costs and human choices. It’s fake money and made-up numbers all the way down. It’s ridiculous and I’m always glad when things like this get more attention.


This is a job for socialism. (socialism flies across the screen with a big red cape)
Pharmaceutical production should be done by the people (govt). Patent seekers should be free to develop new drugs and receive a fee for every pill produced by the government so they can recoup thier costs but actual production and sale should be a public work.


Where is the boing-boing guillotine when we need it??



“But if the government steps in and puts a stop to these guys charging 10000% the actual cost, what about when I become a pharmaceutical giant, then I won’t be able to charge ridiculous prices either!”


Soooo…you’re saying that the American Medical Industrial Complex is really just a ham-fisted attempt to reduce pull factors for Mexican migrants? Build the Wall [of dolla bills]!

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Shovel $20.00

Copperheads this Spring so far: 2
Shovel Kills: 2



As a kid growing up in the swamp, I would catch snakes and sell them to a guy that would drive through once a month. He in turn sold them to labs and zoos. He paid by the foot based upon the snake type and it was easy money for an adolescent. At the time, venomous snakes did not fetch a very good price. I wonder if that ratio has changed, given the huge profit margins these days.


There was a Cottonmouth in the Koi Pond at my dentists this morning when I went in for my checkup. You telling me I could have made back some of the bill?

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Hello Muddah, hello Faddah…

Yep. And those snakes get pretty big. You’re probably looking at 10s of dollars. Totally worth the risk. Just catch it before your appointment next time to ensure more timely service.


Personally I like the guillotine cheese slicer.

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Remind me again, how much Big Pharma contributes to the elections of our Congressmen, Senators and US President?
So I sure they are willing to give up that money come election time, so they can act on our behalf to reduce the inflated prices of medicines.
What that?
No I have not taken my pills.
Why do you ask?

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Unless technology has advanced recently, supplying antivenom costs hospitals significantly more than the number of doses they administer times the cost per dose. The shelf life is very limited, and it’s a medication that’s administered in emergencies so hospitals have to keep it on hand rather than ordering when needed, so most doses a hospital buys will expire and be thrown away.

Of course, the solution here is for the government to pay certain hospitals to maintain antivenom stocks for any wild snakes in the area (I can see the point of requiring zoos and other institutions keeping non-native venomous snakes to pay for maintaining antivenom stocks for those snakes in case one escapes or bites a worker there).

Except the money is not fake when it comes out of the tap at the owners of said pharma companies homes.

Sure, you need cash cows sometimes to offset research costs, but imho it would be a good thing to put hard limits on what percentage of money a (pharma) company spends on wages and (especially) shareholder profits.

It also turns out (h/t to Wheels of Confusion over at Ars) that antivenom usually isn’t necessary for copperhead bites. Of course, it usually is necessary for a rattlesnake bite, and it’s the same antivenom, so they will administer it if they aren’t certain of the species of snake.

Personally I see myself as a temporarily distressed pharmaceutical giant.


The government funds the vast majority of pharma research already.

We tried to give the pharmaceutical companies vast and unprecedented tax breaks/credits/grants in the 80s to “Get government out of the way”. It did not work.

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