I love this YouTube clip of John Oliver, The Daily Show alum and now host of his own HBO show, Last Week Tonight, in which he takes a humorous but scornful look at how Big Pharma markets drugs to doctors.
In 2013, we spent close to $330 billion on prescription medications; 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug. As John Oliver quips,
Walter White could have made a lot more money if he was cooking up rheumatoid arthritis drugs.
He also points out that 9 out of 10 pharmaceutical companies spend … Continue reading
I read a recent article that New York’s attorney general has ordered some drugs stores (Target, Walgreen’s, GNC and Wal-Mart) to stop selling their store-brand supplements because of quality concerns: Herbal Supplements Without Herbs.
Using DNA analysis, several products were examined in a university study:
Among the popular products examined were ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and ginseng pills. Four out of five of the products tested did not include any of the herbs listed on their labels. Even worse, hidden ingredients and contaminants could be dangerous to people with allergies to those substances.
I’ve posted about supplements many … Continue reading
I was driving through Seattle the other day when a billboard caught my eye. The large multi-specialty clinic where I worked for many years, and which I still use for my primary care, was advertising something called a “12-month deferred deductible plan”.
Huh, I thought, and as soon as I got home I jumped on their website to find out more.
Acknowledging the problematic trend of high-deductible health insurance plans, the clinic created a program by which patients can extend their deductible payments over a 12-month period, rather than pay the entire amount at once.
Related post: High-deductibles … Continue reading
I’ve written before about the questionable health advice from such TV shows as Dr. Oz and The Doctors.
Now recent reports show that more TV docs, such as those that are “medical experts” for morning news shows or those that have their own TV shows, might be vulnerable to conflict of interest charges.
Using the feds’ new database, Open Payments, you can search doctors by name to see if they receive money or other perks from pharmaceutical or medical device companies.
A review of the database finds physician journalists—those who appear regularly on news shows like Fox
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Almost since it went online, experts have been pointing out multiple security flaws in the federal health insurance exchange website, HealthCare.gov.
And I’ve reported about security problems in my state-run exchange, as well.
But the latest information about a security issue affecting your personal data isn’t the result of poor design—it’s intentional—and that makes it even more egregious: HealthCare.gov Sends Personal Data to Dozens of Tracking Websites
The digital watchdog group, Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) reports:
EFF researchers have independently confirmed that healthcare.gov is sending personal health information to at least 14 third party domains, even if the
… Continue reading
I like all things snarky so I enjoyed reading a recent post by a physician poking a bit of fun at health and wellness fads.
Remember the old aphorism You are what you eat? Well, forget it. In today’s busy world who has time for “eating in moderation” or “being heart healthy”? I think that if there’s one thing that the health and wellness industry has proven time and time again is that miracle cures and gimmick diets work. Every. Single. Time. Not only are they logical and effective, but also completely safe.
(Don’t forget he’s kidding here!)
… Continue reading
I’ve posted before about my deep disappointment in Dr. Oz. Once a brilliant heart surgeon, he has, in my humble opinion, thrown his career and integrity away to hustle sketchy weight-loss supplements to an eager and sometimes desperate audience.
Related post: Dr. Oz – Pitchman for profit
And I’ve never been comfortable watching the medical tips proffered by the photogenic docs on The Doctors. I especially distrust the smooth and stylish plastic surgeon’s weight loss and anti-aging advice. He’s mostly drumming up business for his colleagues (I wonder if they pay him?).
So I was pleased to learn … Continue reading
I very much agreed with the author of the recent article in The Atlantic titled The Cold-Medicine Racket.
There are now hundreds of flashy “cold and flu” products, but still only a handful of simple, cheap ingredients.
Yes! Every time I’m at the grocery or drug store I see displays and shelves full of the latest and greatest cold products, and I’m always stunned by how much they cost.
I’ve posted many times about these pricey over-the-counter drugs: what works, what doesn’t, and which products are the best value.
Related post: Save money on cold medications
First, I would … Continue reading
I had a good laugh last week when I read the following news story: Ibuprofen adds 12 years to life! Cheap painkillers can slow ageing and fight disease.
The author explains:
In laboratory tests, ibuprofen was found to extend the lives of worms and flies by the equivalent of about 12 years in human terms.
Which means, according to the author:
Regular doses of ibuprofen could allow people to live up to 12 years longer.
Wow, that’s really leaping to a conclusion. But how many people read this article and then ran to the pharmacy to grab some … Continue reading
Profits stay high, too
On Monday, the New York Times published another brilliant piece by Elisabeth Rosenthal in her series “Paying Till it Hurts.”
Testing has become to the United States’ medical system what liquor is to the hospitality industry: a profit center with large and often arbitrary markups. From a medical perspective, blood work, tests and scans are tools to help physicians diagnose and monitor disease. But from a business perspective, they are opportunities to bring in revenue.
And American doctors, clinics and hospitals tend to order lots of tests. “It’s one of the most lucrative revenue streams they
… Continue reading