Designer Drug Deals: Pills + Tablets Make Healthy Gems

For most people, resorting to selling drugs would be a low point in life, not a way to cope with a difficult diagnosis and pay off medical bills. Susan Braig, however, is selling designer drugs for designer prices in order to dig herself out of a significant medical debt. And believe it or not, her newly-found profession is both perfectly legal and earning her some well-deserved attention from art lovers and jewelry buyers.

(image via: LA Times)

When Susan Braig was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2004, she was in for a nasty surprise from her insurance company: they would not cover the bulk of her outpatient treatment. When she filled a prescription for her first round of medication, Braig was shocked to discover that the medications would cost her $500 out of pocket. Given their extortionate prices, she wondered whether the pills were, in fact, precious gems.

(image via: Make Shop Live)

The medical bills continued to pile up. When she participated in a medical-themed art show in 2007, Braig decided to use the expensive little tidbits as the colorful jewels in a tiara. Her project was so popular that several people told her she should start her own jewelry line. She did just that, and she called her line Designer Drug Jewelry.

(image via: Make Shop Live)

Braig, who lives in Altadena, California, is now cancer-free. She has put her leftover cancer medication to good use, making it into colorful and one-of-a-kind baubles. Other cancer patients, friends and family have donated their unused pills to her to be turned into fantastic jewelry pieces. The artist encases the pills in a sealant before gluing them to the costume jewelry bases, rendering the drugs unusable and safe. (As an added bonus, using expired and unneeded pills in this way keeps them out of the waste stream and out of the water supply.)

(image via: Make Shop Live)

The finished jewelry pieces are wrapped up in pill bottles and surgical masks before being sold. Their going rate is between $15 and $150, depending on the size and complexity of the piece. As for Braig, she says that the humor and happiness she gained from designing her jewelry helped her beat her cancer and get through a difficult time. She is still paying off the massive amounts of medical bills and her jewelry sales help to offset some of those costs.

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