5SR - February 23, 2024

Hitha on antivenom, contraception, and being kind to yourself

Today’s curator is the founder of #5SmartReads, Hitha Palepu. She’s a consummate multihyphenate - CEO of Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals, author of WE’RE SPEAKING: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris and How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip, and professional speaker. Hitha is an unabashed fan of Taco Bell, Philadelphia sports teams & F1, romance novels, and is a mediocre crafter. She lives in NYC with her husband and two sons.

Someone please invite me to a PowerPoint party so I have an excuse to create one about the brilliance and the necessity of the Hallmark Channel, especially right now.

My father and I watch countless Christmas movies from the network every year, and I’ve kept the tradition going with their original movies and series as my mental release valve. There’s great comfort in the predictability of their films, and I’ve observed how much better I feel after watching one of these movies over my usual Bravo shows.

Their spin on Jane Austen’s works - from a direct adaptation of Sense & Sensibility to the sweet, slightly cynical FMC trope Paging Mr. Darcy have a necessary mental palate cleanser after long days.

Another company I’m a huge fan of is Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs, which has been a gamechanger in providing price transparency in medications at scale.

The medications offered through this pharmacy have been generics (hence their accessible price point). But that’s about to change, with Bayer now selling two of their branded drugs (the oral contraceptive Yaz and hormone patch Climara) through the pharmacy.

Even though there are generics and alternatives to Yaz and Climara, respectively, sales for these branded products remains high (especially in patients paying out-of-pocket for these branded medications).

I’ll be very curious to see if this sales channel boosts sales for these drugs, and which brands will follow.

While the partnership between Bayer and Cost Plus is great for those who can and have been purchasing this medication, access to reproductive healthcare and contraception can be a significant challenge to uninsured people.

Which makes the work of nonprofits like New Morning all the more valuable (and I’m a very proud member of their board of directors).

Investment in family planning and contraception is not just good for those who require the services - it’s good for public health and the economy.

“n South Carolina, the nonprofit New Morning has partnered with more than 150 community health clinics that provided family planning counseling and contraceptive services to about 450,000 women, contributing to a 44% decrease in unwanted births. In 2021, our state saw a 7% decline in infant deaths, a marginal but welcome change in our fight.”

Unwanted births put a strain on the health system and the state’s economy, especially if these expectant parents are uninsured and haven’t received prenatal care throughout the pregnancy. Family planning is one of the best public investments we can make - every $1 invested can yield a $60-100 return over time.

I will continue sho

I’ve been a real a$$hole to myself these past few weeks. And how I’ve spoked to myself has been a big contributor to this spiral of negativity.

I instinctively know better - I do. But when you’re at your lowest moments, the discipline it takes to do better can be overwhelming. It’s just easier to wallow, beat yourself up, and order in Taco Bell and watch Netflix (or Hallmark Channel movies).

Olivia’s essay on self-kindness (and differentiating it from self-love) is exactly what I needed to read. This section is particularly powerful in its gentleness:

“There’s part of me that still thinks that being kind to yourself equates to something like coddling. Weakness. But every time I have one of these moments where I opt not to beat myself up — or at least to stop short of it — I am reminded that being nice to myself doesn’t make me worse at all. When I am nicer to myself, I tend to move on more quickly, bounce back more easily. I treat people around me better because I’m not so angry at myself for falling short in some way. I am able to focus on the things I can actually control instead of spiraling about what I can’t. It feels like the equivalent of dealing with life minus the giant weight of my own judgment. I guess this is all pretty basic stuff, maybe. Be nice to yourself. It’s not rocket science, right? But honestly, the more I have these small moments of self-kindness, the more I am beginning to think I’ve maybe never been nice to myself, not really. Not fully.”

I hope you read this essay, and I hope you preorder Olivia’s upcoming novel! I can’t wait to read it.

warning - if you’re scared of snakes, you’ll want to scroll down immediately when it begins to load.

Allow me to indulge in my inner nerd and geek out about the promise of a universal anti-venom agent. If successful, this could be a huge, huge deal.

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