You Are Cordially Invited…

20 01 2010

I’m looking at a dinner invitation I just received in the mail.

It’s not for a White House State dinner.  People won’t be devising underhanded schemes to sneak into this event.  No formal attire or preparatory trips to the beauty salon will be required.

The sponsor of this affair is Serono, the maker of Rebif, one of the main line multiple sclerosis disease modifying drugs (DMDs).  (That’s a mouthful!)

I get invitations like these every few weeks.  I ignore most of them because the events are up in Maryland, WAY too hard to get to in the midst of the evening rush hour.

But once in a while they host one at a hotel about three miles from my house.

I’ve been to three of them.  Each time we had a nice salad, a great filet mignon AND a piece of salmon, asparagus, potato, and a rich, decadent dessert.  I especially enjoyed the food because I didn’t have to shop for it, prepare it, or clean up afterwards.  (One time a woman whipped out a Tupperware assortment to take significant portions of her meal home.  I’m tempted to do the same thing.  It would be plenty for two meals.)

The informational sessions that accompany the food are, in general, fairly mediocre.  Sort of remedial MS 101.  Lots of generalities, no meat (unlike the actual meal itself.)  But, blessedly, short.

On each occasion I’ve enjoyed meeting someone with whom I shared an MS diagnosis, but not much else.  A brand new sleep-deprived mom.  A woman who’d been a school teacher since forever.  A gay guy who was there with his partner.  In each case, the conversation was most engaging.

The thing is, the whole endeavor must be very expensive.  Mailing out tons of invitations to people for events that they cannot reasonably be expected to attend.  Providing these very nice meals.  You’re welcome to bring a dinner companion and they don’t care whether you’re actually taking Rebif or not.

Rebif, like all the MS disease modifying drugs, isn’t cheap.  The advertised rate is well over $100 per injection, three shots a week.  More than the cost of sending your kid to the state university: tuition, room, board, and books.  Plus the cost doesn’t end when junior graduates after four years (or five, depending on how academically focused your offspring is.)

Because I have decent insurance I don’t have to deal with those enormous costs.  (I don’t know what deals exist between the drug companies and the insurance companies.)

But all the attention focused on health care reform has made me think about the poor guy who’s trying to pay for his Rebif without insurance, while I dine on this exquisite meal.  From a microeconomic point of view, I’m getting lots of utils (remember your Econ 101 class?) from this delectable delight, this gustatory celebration, this party for the taste buds.  But from a macroeconomic point of view, I’m pretty sure we could spend our health care dollars in a more productive fashion.

This probably won’t prevent me from accepting this dinner invitation.  It may, however, mean the filet mignon gets served up with a side of guilt.

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