The High Cost of Survival: A Personal Account of Thyroid Medication Price Hikes.

Janice Konstantinidis
3 min readNov 5, 2023

The escalating cost of pharmaceuticals has become a critical issue, affecting the quality of life and, indeed, the very survival of individuals reliant on medication for chronic conditions. My personal journey post-total thyroidectomy in 1990 encapsulates a broader narrative of healthcare inequities that are pervasive in our society.

When compromised or removed, the thyroid, a small gland with a pivotal role in regulating metabolism, necessitates lifelong reliance on replacement hormones. For over three decades, I’ve been tethered to Synthroid, a branded medication, to mimic the function of my absent thyroid. The recent price surge of Synthroid — a staggering 300% increase over five years — has not only strained my finances but also highlighted a broken system where the price of health is dictated by profit margins.

At $75.00 for a three-month supply, Synthroid’s cost becomes a significant financial burden, especially when juxtaposed with the considerably lower $21.00 price tag for its generic counterpart, levothyroxine. Yet, for some, like me, generics are not a viable alternative due to variations in drug efficacy that can lead to adverse health effects, such as irregular heartbeats. This is not a mere inconvenience but a serious health concern that can undermine the stability of one’s condition.

The disparity in drug pricing becomes more glaring when considering the costs without insurance; at Costco, for example, the price for Synthroid leaps to $123.74 for the same 90 tablets. This prohibitive cost barrier means that for many, particularly the uninsured and underinsured, medication competes with basic necessities like food and shelter. The choice, when it comes down to it, may not be a choice at all.

The underlying issue is the monopolistic pricing power wielded by pharmaceutical companies, bolstered by a cadre of influential lobbyists and sympathetic legislators. This unholy alliance between big pharma and political interests operates at the expense of the most vulnerable: lower-income individuals and marginalized groups, who are often the most affected by these exorbitant prices.

The consequence of this systemic failure is not just financial destitution but a very real mortality rate that ticks upward as people forego essential medications. It’s a grim outcome that reflects a healthcare system in crisis, where the value of a life is weighed against…

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Janice Konstantinidis

I am a lover of fine cheese, my dogs, my garden, knitting, photography, writing and more!