The High Price of Toenail Fungus

JubliaFormer tennis star John McEnroe is often seen on a TV commercial touting Jublia, a medication for treating toenail fungus. It is only sold by prescription, so he ends by saying, “Ask your doctor if Jublia is right for you.”

Better you should ask your financial adviser.

Jublia comes in tiny 4 ml. bottles (about the size of your thumbnail) of a 10% alcohol solution that costs $550 each.  You need to apply one drop per toe once a day (two drops for the big toe), until the toenail is totally grown out, about a full year. Since a 4 ml. bottle contains about 80 drops, a complete treatment for all of your toes could cost $20,000.

Spend all this money to cure something that is only cosmetic and after a year, you will probably still have toenail fungus. In clinical studies, the best cure rate for Jublia was only 17.8%, less than 1 out 0f 5.

Of course, no one would pay that much themselves. Only our government or a negotiated health plan would pick up such a huge tab for such a minor condition and such a chancy result.

Isn’t the FDA supposed to protect us from such misleading health care products? We are not talking about a critical treatment for cancer or any life-threatening condition whose smallest hope is worth any cost.

With toenail fungus, the worst that can happen is that the nail falls off.  By then, it has become a yellow, disgusting lump, and good riddance to it.  A new nail is probably growing underneath it, but even if it isn’t, who cares?  We don’t need  claws to cling to tree branches anymore. You will not miss it.  A toe missing a nail will not hurt, and only a toenail pervert would  notice it is gone. Tattoo a drawing of a nail on your toe if you must have something.

Another highly advertised product is Fungi-Nail.  You would think from the name that it would be for the treatment of toenail fungus, but the label says, in small print, at the end of six steps of directions, “This product is not effective on the scalp or nails.”  Examine the details and you find it is only sold for the treatment of athlete’s foot, which they say often accompanies toenail fungus.  Do you think they are scamming us?

Last year, I saw an advertisement for a third toenail fungus treatment that said in big letters on the bottle “Guaranteed to restore healthy toenails!” Guaranteed? Maybe there has been a medical breakthrough, but on a closer look there was a tiny middle line that made it read, “Guaranteed to restore /the appearance of/ healthy toenails.” Big difference!

For years I have been using Vick’s VapoRub to do just that. I found the suggestion years ago in a Consumer’s Report article. It does not kill the fungus, but sure makes it look better. I suspect the eucalyptus oil soaks into the nail and removes that desiccated look. And it works in about an hour, not a year, and a jar of Vick’s is big and cheap. I just smear a glob on the nail before I put on my sock, about once every other week. Under my shoe, it doesn’t smell.  It gets me through the summer without scaring small children at the pool.

Others claim Listerine also works. The trick, they say, is to find a way to keep the toe wet for 2–3 hours twice a week, and it will actually cure the fungal infection. So will Vick’s, some say, with persistence, but both require continuing treatment for about a year until the complete nail grows out. These cures are only anecdotal claims, but it is easy to try.

If toenail fungus is your biggest problem, count your blessings.  You must have a very stress-free life.

RWalck@Verizon.net

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About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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