A California cancer survivor who says she was "deeply in debt because I was underinsured" earns money selling costume jewelry made out of expired medications.
Susan Braig, 61, of Altadena, makes necklaces, earrings and other items using pharmaceutical pills and tablets. She told the Los Angeles Times the idea came to her in 2007 -- three years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and began undergoing chemotherapy.
"I bought my first round of medicine and it cost $500 out of my own pocket," she said. "I looked at the drugstore receipt and then at the little pills and wondered if they were precious gems."
Now cancer-free, Braig says she lost her healthcare insurance last month but even when she was insured, the bills piled up.
"I'm deeply in debt because I was underinsured," she said.
Braig said the got the idea to incorporate pills and tablets into jewelry when she was designing an item for an art exhibition -- a mock Tiffany & Co. ad she had intended to show medications standing in for jewels and gems. Instead of an ad, she made a tiara, using leftover cancer medications, and the response from people attending the event prompted her to start up Designer Drug Jewelry.
Braig says she uses medications donated by friends. For the record, she notes the pills and tablets are coated with a sealant, making them "non-abusable."
Braig says her items sell for anywhere from $15 to $150.