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Latest Posts

Awkward Timing: Actor Featured In TV Drug Commercial During His Own Murder Movie

You may recall, I have a beef with Madison Avenue ad agencies that keep serving up the same New York actors in television commercials for different illnesses. I take it personally. The woman with cancer also has asthma. The man with arthritis also has erectile dysfunction. I feel bad for them!

Last night the quest by an actor to find work got ridiculous for me as my wife, Esther, and I were watching one of our favorite shows, “Criminal Minds,” on CBS. It was a particularly violent episode where a Bonnie and Clyde-type couple shot their way across Montana and proved to be the sickest of cold blooded killers. As the story develops, both the young man and the young woman were abused as children and their plan becomes to mete out retribution to the parents who ruined their lives.

Late in the show the young woman confronts a gray haired man in his 50’s behind the counter at his service station-convenience store. It was her father. She points a gun at him while he pleads for his life. I turned to Esther and said “I know that man! Where do I know him from?” Esther didn’t know and I couldn’t remember. Back on the screen things go from bad to worse, and while the young woman hesitates, her boyfriend sends the father to the hereafter. It was so sad. Where do I know that guy from???? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

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*

Reaching Doctors In The Virtual World

It’s the great migration to digital. And as civilization makes its move, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to figure out how to reach out to physicians. Pharmaceutical reps are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Branded medication portals leave most doctors cold. Email outreach is marginal.

Pharma strategists ask me how to reach doctors in the new world. I don’t have an answer. It isn’t that I can’t come up with an answer. It’s just that a good one doesn’t exist. Why?

Doctors aren’t anywhere right now. They’re stuck somewhere between the analog and digital. Socially they’re nebulous. Their virtual communities are non-existent. Public social networks are sparsely populated. When they participate they watch and rarely create or discuss. Our profession is going through a lot right now and it’s evident in anemic digital adoption. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

The Impact Of Drug Marketing On Medical Care

In my group practice, the Yale Medical Group, drug company-sponsored lunches and similar events have been banned. This is part of a trend, at least within academic medicine, to create some distance between physicians and pharmaceutical companies, or at least their marketing divisions. The justifications for this are several, and are all reasonable. One reason is the appearance of being too cozy, which compromises the role of academic physicians as independent experts.

But the primary reason is the belief that “detailing” by pharmaceutical sales representatives has a negative effect on the prescribing habits of physicians. There is reason to believe this may be the case because of cases of bad behavior on the part of pharmaceutical marketing divisions — ghost writing white papers, for example.

The concern, backed by evidence, is that pharmaceutical companies introduce spin and bias into the information they provide to physicians, whether though CME, detailing, literature, or sponsored lectures. Even when the information itself is not massaged, it is cherry picked, so in the end physicians are not getting a thorough and unbiased assessment of the facts. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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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…

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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…

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