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

Latest Posts

Product Used For Poison Ivy Skin Reaction Undergoes Price Increases

I recently received a note mailed to health care providers from Steve Sisler, Vice President of Sales Development for Zanfel Laboratories, Inc. Zanfel is a product used to decrease the skin reaction attributable to poison ivy and similar plants (e.g., poison oak and sumac). Here is an edited part of the note that I received:

While attending the recent American Academy of Family Physicians trade show, numerous health care professionals stopped by the Zanfel Laboratories booth to ask questions and gain additional knowledge regarding the Zanfel product and the overall disease state of urushiol-induced allergic contact dermatitis. Additionally, a great many prescribers voiced concern over the recent price increases of Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash. The conversations were very specific in that the retail price for Zanfel had increased to $42.99, $44.99 and even as high as $48.99 plus tax. These prescribers are aware of the retail price increases because their patients are calling them back after visiting CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. Their patients are aware that Zanfel had previously been sold for approximately $39.99 plus tax. These patients are upset because they believe that Zanfel Laboratories has initiated a retail price increase.

Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash has not had a cost increase in over Read more »

This post, Product Used For Poison Ivy Skin Reaction Undergoes Price Increases, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Is The Million Hearts Campaign All About The Money?

I don’t know what I was thinking with my last post about the Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative. I thought the whole point of this program was to save money. At the time, I was less than optimistic that the government could acurately reach their goal given the problems with many of the principles behind their program. For instance, maybe it was just me, but how typing on an electronic medical record system would save those lives was lost on me.

But at the time, I had no idea this whole campaign was based on fear.

Watch this introductory video I found on the brand new Million Hearts website, all paid for (of course) with your tax payer dollars: Read more »

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

Quiz: What Is The Most Frequently Shoplifted Item At Walgreens?

I’m not sure if this is true or not, or if it’s a local phenomenon, but I heard a discussion the other day from a previous Walgreens employee describing the most shoplifted item in their store.  Are you ready for this…..

Hemorrhoid creams and suppositories.

There are apparently a lot of a**holes in this world that get rubbed the wrong way.

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Walgreens Sued For Selling Patient Data

Walgreens is being sued by customers who are not happy that their prescription information – even though it has been de-identified – is being sold by Walgreens to data-mining companies.

The data privacy and security concerns surrounding the transfer of de-identified data are significant.  To “de-identify” what is otherwise protected health information under HIPAA, some outfits will simply strip data of 18 types of identifiers listed in federal regulations.  However, the relevant regulation (45 CFR 164.514(b)(2)(ii)) also provides that this only works if “the covered entity does not have actual knowledge that the information could be used alone or in combination with other information to identify an individual who is a subject of the information.” Thus, the problem with this approach is that, these days, nobody can disclaim knowledge of the fact that information de-identified by removing this cookbook list of 18 identifiers may be re-identified by cross-matching data with other publicly-available data sources. There are a number of reported instances of this sort of thing happening. The bottom line is that our collective technical prowess has outstripped the regulatory safe harbor.

Is this the basis of the lawsuit brought against Walgreens?  An objection to trafficking in health information that should remain private?  No.  The plaintiff group of customers is suing to share in the profits realized by Walgreens from trading in the de-identified data. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Curious About Your DNA? Just Stop By Walgreens

I’ve been writing about personal genomics for years. The standard concept of it is that you can order such genetic tests online, send your saliva or buccal swab to the lab where they analyze your DNA, then you can check online what kind of diseases you have elevated or lowered risk for. That’s how Navigenics, 23andMe or Pathway Genomics works. Now Pathway had a major announcement:

San Diego based startup Pathway Genomics announced [May 18th] that it will begin selling its DNA collection kits at Walgreens drugstores beginning in mid-May, for about $20 to $30. Unlike a pregnancy test, users won’t be able to get results immediately. They will have to send in their saliva sample and then go to Pathway’s website to select the particular test they want. Users choose from drug response ($79), which assesses how well an individual can metabolize certain drugs, predicting the best dosage for that person or whether they will be susceptible to certain side effects; pre-pregnancy planning ($179), which determines whether parents carry mutations for serious genetic diseases; health conditions ($179), which assesses risk for a number of conditions, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer and more; or a combination of all three ($249). The kits won’t be sold in New York because the state’s laws require medical professionals to be involved in this type of testing.

As you may know, I’m not totally against direct-to-consumer genetic testing, but I really would like to see doctors and genetic counselors in this process. I think selling such kits through drugstores can only happen in the U.S. right now. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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 »

See all book reviews »