Rocky Rollout of Sunshine Act— The Open Payments Program for Physicians.

Another Accountable Care Act initiative with website problems!

For many years now, many public policy concerns have been expressed about the huge amounts of money that pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers give directly to physicians and academic medical centers. An old drug detail-man in Kentucky once told me his company gave Cadillacs to the highest prescribers of his drugs. I doubt that things are that blatant anymore, but so much money flows into individual and departmental pockets that it is difficult to assemble members for expert panels of the FDA, CDC, or other policymaking organizations who are not receiving money from drug and device makers. Full disclosure was supposed to solve the problem, but that does not work. The Open Payments initiative is part of a larger movement for greater transparency and accountability. I plan to write more about this, including my own experience over the years interacting with Pig Pharma and Big Devices.

Continue reading “Rocky Rollout of Sunshine Act— The Open Payments Program for Physicians.”

New Epidemic of Meningitis: Predictable and Unnecessary.

National news media of all sorts have been reporting about an “epidemic of meningitis” associated with contaminated steroid shots given for back pain. I might as well chime in too. There have been 47 cases identified so far with five deaths, including one Kentuckian. Because hundreds or even thousands of people have received such injections, these numbers will surely increase over the next few weeks. Meningitis is inflammation or infection of the tissues surrounding the spinal cord and brain. The epidural or peri-spinal steroid shots in these cases are injected deeply around the spine and close (if not adjacent) to the meninges. Once the infection breaks through into the spinal fluid or bloodstream, it spreads widely in short order including to the brain. Continue reading “New Epidemic of Meningitis: Predictable and Unnecessary.”

Cure and Outrage Coexist Comfortably in American Medicine

The medicine that we are too willing to swallow.

It has only been a lack of time, never of material, that limits the number of entries in this column. (Are any of you out there interested in writing about something?) One has only to open the local newspaper or watch any news program to stumble across things that should cause our ears to perk up, if not make our blood boil. Last Friday’s Courier-Journal provides a typical example. There were no fewer than five different news articles that were exactly on point for issues we have been writing about this past year. The articles highlighted the massive squandering of money and flesh by a broken healthcare system, a substantial risk of the most commonly touted screening procedure, an example of the unconscionable bills that hospitals are willing to present to their patients, a Kentucky hospital being sued for massive but lucrative overtreatment, and a report of still one more widely used treatment for Alzheimer’s syndrome that didn’t work. There seems to be no limit to the amount of abuse the American public is willing to take from the healthcare industry that is supposed to serve them. Fortunately for me, I don’t have much hair to pull out anymore. Continue reading “Cure and Outrage Coexist Comfortably in American Medicine”

More Failed Studies of Antibody Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.

I was unaware that the  result from Lilly was not the only recent major failure of a clinical trial of antibodies to the amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  It seems that many other big and little-name drug companies have been trying the same approach with their dozen or so different antibodies. Each is trying to make it to market first where the biggest money lies.  (Consumers should beware when the commercial pressures are this great.)

Last month, Pfizer and its partners announced a similar failure of several studies which showed no clinical improvement when their particular antibody, bapineuzumab, was administered to several thousand patients over 18 months. Continue reading “More Failed Studies of Antibody Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.”