Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

How Your Medication List Makes You The Perfect Pharma Target

Give me your medication list and I’ll tell you your health problems. It happens every day in emergency rooms across the country as confused elderly patients present for an acute problem unable to describe their past medical history, but equipped with a list of medications in their wallet:

Metformin = Type-2 diabetes

Synthroid = Hypothyroidism

Lipitor + Altace + Lasix + Slo-K = Ischemic cardiomyopathy

Lexapro = A little anxious or depressed

Viagra = Well, you know…

I bet I’d be right better than 90 percent of the time. Now, imagine you’re a pharmaceutical company wanting to target people with those chronic diseases. Where might you find them?

No problem. Just pay the insurers to provide you patients’ drug lists. No names need be exchanged in keeping with HIPAA requirements. But the drugs list attached to folks’ cable TV box? Perfect. You’re in — with no legal strings attached. Then, according to the Wall Street Journal, just fire away with that targeted direct-to-consumer advertising on TV, courtesy of your local healthcare insurance provider.

No wonder our healthcare industry movers and shakers love the electronic medical record. Healthcare privacy? What healthcare privacy?

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

“What’s Wrong?” It’s A Generic-Drug Rip Off, That’s What

Cute packaging and product placement in the checkout lane at Duane Reade will get you generic Tylenol for a price equivalent to $50 for 100 tabs, as opposed to $6 per 100 count in the usual package.

*This blog post was originally published at tbtam*

A Secret “Sign Of Aging”: International Disease Mongering

Just five days ago we wrote about an American journalist’s observations of medicalization of one problem sometimes observed after menopause: Vaginal atrophy.

Today we see that this disease-mongering trend has popped up in Australia as well. This should be no surprise. Such campaigns are usually led by multinational pharmaceutical companies and their advertising and public relations agencies.

What caught our eye was an article on a women’s health foundation website — a foundation that posts a pretty thin excuse for why it won’t tell you its source of funding. Its article on vaginal atrophy uses classic disease-mongering language:

Ask a woman over the age of 50 about the ‘signs of ag[e]ing’ and she’ll most likely lament about grey hairs, wrinkles and certain body parts having lost their youthful perkiness. What she probably won’t mention is that is that things are ageing “downstairs” too; up to 40% of postmenopausal women show signs of vaginal atrophy.”

The silent epidemic that no one talks about. The huge prevalence estimate — where does that 40 percent figure come from? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Top Gripes About Drugs And What They Cost

I used to defend pharmaceutical companies. ”What companies out there have contributed more good? Should care manufacturers make more when all they do is make transportation that breaks after a few years?”

It made sense to me that you should put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so that companies are motivated to invent more drugs and innovate. We throw a lot of money to athletes and movie stars who simply entertain us, shouldn’t we do better to those who heal us? I used to say that. I don’t anymore.

No, I don’t think the drug companies are “evil.” People who say that are thinking way to simplistic. These companies are doing exactly what their shareholders want them to do: make as much money as possible for as long as possible. That’s what all companies do, right? They are simply working within the system as it is and trying to accomplish the goal of making money. To say that they should “sacrifice” is foolish. They are simply playing by the rules that have been set out there. Those rules are the thing that has to change. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Marketing: Direct to e-Patient

Patients are the new darling of the medical-industrial complex. If you look around you will see patients advocating for one another. If you click a little closer you’ll find some with relationships to industry.

It makes perfect sense that the manufacturer of a drug or medical device would want the blessings of our nascent cybercelebs. Some want genuine patient input.  Some, however, want to curry their favor. Chock up influence of the patient population as evidence of social health’s evolving maturity.

A couple of questions:

  • Will industry be required to publicly list monies used for sponsorship, travel and swag support of high profile patients in the social sphere?
  • Should high visibility patients who serve as stewards and advocates disavow themselves of contact with pharma just as many academic medical centers have begun?

As is often the case, I don’t have an answer. I’m just raising the questions. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Latest Interviews

Caring For Winter Olympians In Sochi: An Interview With Team USA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gloria Beim

I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

Read more »

How Do Hospital Executives Feel About Locum Tenens Agencies And Traveling Physicians?

I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

Read more »

See all book reviews »