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Vending Machines For Prescription Drugs: A UK Trial

The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is running a trial with two different drug vending machines in two of its West Sussex stores. Basically you can drop your prescription at the machine, the pharmacy will collect the prescriptions and deliver the medications which you can later pick up.

As the machines are placed in stores with an in-store pharmacy service, the only benefit seems to be the lack of face-to-face contact (for those people who consider that a benefit). The trial will run for a year after which it will be decided whether they will be rolled out across all of England. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

No Forgetting To Take Your Meds

Normally, the patient calls the pharmacy for a prescription. Now, the prescription is doing that by itself. GlowCaps, a prescription bottle cap made by Vitality, has assumed control for medication compliance.

The bottle cap fits prescription bottles, but has uses cellphone technology to tap into wireless networks. Once connected, the pill bottle does everything imaginable to remind patients to take their pills.

There’s lights — plenty of them. The bottle cap really does glow and make noise to remind patients. Plug-in units wirelessly connected to the bottle cap can be placed anywhere there’s a wall socket. Oh, and it will call you, too, if you forget. The company calls this “Reminders Ramp from Subtle to Insistent.” (Add “relentless” to that.)

Ultimately, GlowCaps tallies compliance and sends reports to caregivers and physicians. Not surprisingly, studies show that constant nagging to take one’s medications works.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Flibanserin: Another Pre-FDA Approval Drug Hype

Money-happy pillThis week the FDA will vote on flibanserin, the much-talked-about drug for women with the condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder or — because everything in sexual health needs an acronym like ED or PE — HSDD.

On the eve of the FDA vote, CBS last week ran still another story about flibanserin. This drug has received so much news coverage, you’d think it cures cancer.

And CBS did little more than promote the hype even more, saying FDA approval “could translate into a $2 billion market in this country alone” and then failing to challenge the disease-mongering estimate of “10 percent to 30 percent of women” with this condition. It all just goes along with the drug company’s efforts to build a demand before the drug is even approved. Read more »

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

Who Pays For Healthcare? When Doctors And Patients Don’t Care

The essence of the moral hazard experience through a nice neighborly conversation:

Neighbor: These allergies are killing me.
Happy:  That’s terrible. I hope you feel better.
Neighbor:  I tried Zyrtec but it wasn’t doing anything for me, so my doctor prescribed ‘x.’ (inaudible drug name )
Happy:  Does it start with an ‘x?’ (The drugs name is Xyzal.)
Neighbor:  Yes, it does.
Happy: Oh, that drug (Xyzal) is nothing more than Zyrtec, which the company slightly changed the formula of and now they get to sell it as a patented medication at 10 times the price for the next 10 years.
Neighbor: Oh, I didn’t know that. But you’re right. It was  $110. 
Happy:  Did it help you with your allergies?
Neighbor: Nope.
Happy: I guess you just wasted $100.
Neighbor.  I didn’t waste anything. My insurance company paid for it.
Happy:  Actually, we all paid for it with higher premiums.
Neighbor: (Walks away.)

The doctor doesn’t care — he’s not paying for it. The patient doesn’t care — she’s not paying for it. But everyone complains that their insurance rates are out of control. It’s not insurance company profits that are making healthcare too expensive, it’s patients and doctors who don’t care. 

Bundled care solves this problem because the doctor won’t prescribe a $110 medication and offer therapies with no proven benefit over less-expensive options.

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

How Much Does A Heart Attack Cost?

Money HeartHow much would a heart attack cost you? Quite a bit, according to CBS MoneyWatch.com:

According to an article from the National Business Group on Health, the average total [editor’s note: lifetime] cost of a severe heart attack -– including direct and indirect costs -– is about $1 million. Direct [lifetime] costs include charges for hospitals, doctors and prescription drugs, while indirect costs include lost productivity and time away from work. The average [lifetime] cost of a less-severe heart attack is about $760,000. Amortized over 20 years, that’s $50,000 per year for a severe heart attack and $38,000 per year for a less-severe heart attack.

I’m all for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but before we get all hot and bothered about performing more testing to “prevent” a heart attack as a means to save healthcare costs going forward, remember the lessons we learned from the Tim Russert fallout. Read more »

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

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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