Medical Progress Today
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Volume 2, Number 34
September 23, 2005


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In the Spotlight

Senator David Vitter wants the FDA to stop looking for dangerous or counterfeit imported drugs

Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Medical Progress Today, 9-21-05

At a time when the FDA is under pressure to increase the safety of medicines developed and prescribed here at home, legislators such as Senator David Vitter of Louisiana want to deprive the agency of resources to increase vigilance against unapproved or counterfeit medicines from abroad.
Continue reading . . .

News

Council Approves Bill on Suing Drug Companies Over Costs
Washington Post, 9-21-05

Editor’s Notes:

Though price controls inevitably give governments and citizens less of what they really want, they remain popular as a way for politicians to signal their sympathy with consumers facing high prices—in this case, Americans without prescription drug insurance.
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Drugs Offer Angioplasty Alternative
The New York Times, 9-20-05

Editor’s Notes:

Critics of prescription-drug prices seldom note that new medicines often replace other, more expensive or potentially dangerous forms of health care. A recent Dutch study, for instance, has found that, for mild heart attacks, a watch-and-wait strategy employing clot-busting drugs and statins was just as good as angioplasty treatment (threading a small balloon into a clogged artery to increase blood flow to the heart).
Continue reading . . .

A Victory for Lilly—With Reservations
Forbes, 9-19-05

Editor’s Notes:

The results from the “biggest-study [ever] of treatments for schizophrenia” by the National Institutes of Health were released this week. The study compared an older generic medicine with new branded drugs. Media headlines on the report have focused on the apparent finding that the generic drug seemed to perform just as well as some newer ones. However, this interpretation needs to be taken with a large grain of salt—and the media seems largely to have missed story that we desperately need better drugs for treating schizophrenia.
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Doctors Join to Promote Electronic Record Keeping
The New York Times, 9-19-05

Editor’s Notes:

Why has the health-care industry not used used information-technologies to improve productivity and cut costs, at least not to the degree that the rest of the economy has? The core problem seems to be that health care providers—for instance, small physicians’ groups—may face substantial upfront capital costs and may not garner any immediate advantage from changes, such as transitioning to electronic medical-records. Physicians are working together, however, to pool resources and develop new business models for adopting IT:
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Commentary

Medicaid is behind the decline in private health coverage
Michael Cannon, New Hampshire Union Leader, 9-19-05

Government’s job is to pool common resources in order offer services that would not be provided by market forces or individual firms. The classic example is national defense. But when governments offer services that the market already provides at artificially low prices, private firms can’t compete and exit the market. This leaves government—and taxpayers—footing the bill for government services that are less efficient than the ones formerly provided by private companies. Cannon argues that Medicaid, the government’s insurance program for low income Americans, is having this effect on private insurance markets:
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Health Care and Homeland Security: It’s Catastrophic to Have One without the Other
David Merritt, Newt Gingrich, Chicago Tribune, 9-19-05

Gingrich points out that, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, we can see both the advantages of switching to electronic health records and the perils of allowing the country’s health care providers to lag in the adoption of information technology platforms:
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The Companies Everyone Loves to Hate
Roger Bate, Wall Street Journal, 9-16-05

Hollywood has a few stalwart villains that it habitually relies on to vent its spleen, but corporations must be the all-time favorite tinseltown punching bag. Roger Bate outlines why the pharmaceutical industry, in particular, has become a popular target of late and why it is likely to remain in the crosshairs through his review of the film adaptation of John le Carré’s “The Constant Gardner”:
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The Vioxx Hex
Washington Post, 9-16-05

The Post points out that last thing that seems to be on the minds of jurors in the ongoing Vioxx litigation is the science behind the plaintiff’s claims—or Merck’s defense strategy:
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Command and Control: Maine’s Dirigo Health Care Program
Tarren Bragdon, Heritage Foundation, 9-15-05

Ten years ago, advocates for a single, national health care system funded by the federal government hoped that Tennessee’s expanded Medicaid program (TennCare) would serve as a national model for single-payer health care. Ten years later, the program is a disastrous, budget-busting mess.
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Research

Financial Anatomy of Biomedical Research
The Journal of the American Medical Association, 9-21-05

This article presents a snapshot of total U.S. biomedical research over the past ten years—a welcome tally, since comprehensive estimates are few and far between. This summary should give researchers a better sense of where money is being spent, and a starting point for examing whether it is being spent well or poorly. As one might expect, private research sponsors outspent public sources by over 2 to 1.
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Medical Progress Today is published by the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

For more information about Medical Progress Today, please contact the managing editor, Paul Howard, at phoward@manhattan-institute.org, or via telephone at 212.599.7000.

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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Senator David Vitter wants the FDA to stop looking for dangerous or counterfeit imported drugs

NEWS

Council Approves Bill on Suing Drug Companies Over Costs
Drugs Offer Angioplasty Alternative
A Victory for Lilly—With Reservations
Doctors Join to Promote Electronic Record Keeping

COMMENTARY

Medicaid is behind the decline in private health coverage
Health Care and Homeland Security: It’s Catastrophic to Have One without the Other
The Companies Everyone Loves to Hate
The Vioxx Hex
Command and Control: Maine’s Dirigo Health Care Program

RESEARCH

Financial Anatomy of Biomedical Research
Center for Medical Progress 
Copyright Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
52 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017
(212) 599-7000
mpt@manhattan-institute.org