Medical Progress Today
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Volume 2, Number 41
November 10, 2005


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In the Spotlight

The Acute Nature of Chronic Problems
Why the AARP drumbeat on costs won't help cure a single patient

Peter J. Pitts, Medical Progress Today, 11-10-05

Policymakers in the U.S. and abroad are obsessed with the cost of healthcare. A recent World Health Organization study reports that India, China and Russia will suffer losses of billions of dollars in national income over the next decade unless investments are made to prevent rising levels of chronic diseases. And a March 2005 research synthesis from the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that the United States could save nearly $2.5 billion a year by preventing hospitalizations due to severe diabetes complications alone.
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News

Crucial Antibiotic Rescues Biotech Maker’s Finances
The New York Times, 11-9-05

Editor’s Notes:

While oil companies are being lambasted by U.S. Senators for so-called “windfall profits,” and politicians are threatening to revoke Roche’s Tamiflu patent, it may be a good time to recall that profits drive markets—and markets drive innovation. “Windfall profits” has become a term of abuse, when really the profits indicate that companies have been successful in creating products that we want and need.
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Cholesterol drug also helps memory
Newsday, 11-9-05

Editor’s Notes:

Statins, as we have noted several times in the past, appear to be wonder drugs somewhat akin to aspirin. They are relatively safe and researchers seem to uncover new potential uses for the drugs every year.
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Missing Medicine -- Emergency Response: Fearing Avian Flu, Bioterror, U.S. Scrambles to Fill Drug Gap --- Congress Debates Incentives And Liability Protection For Vaccines, Antibiotics --- Trial Lawyers: 'That's Unfair'
Wall Street Journal, 11-9-05

Editor’s Notes:

Experts seem to be in unanimous agreement that vaccines and other medicines used to defend against bioterror attacks need greater liability protection to encourage manufacturers to invest in new products. Trial lawyers—who make multimillion dollar paydays from suing biotech and pharmaceutical companies—reply that such protections would be “unfair.”
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Feuding Over Vaccines; Doctor’s Vexed by Parent’s Refusal
Washington Post, 11-8-05

Editor’s Notes:

Plaintiff’s attorneys who sue corporations for a living are fond of saying that jurors must “send a message” to companies to get them to stop illegal or unethical behavior that costs lives. What kind of message would we have to send to the plaintiff’s bar to get the message across that their scare tactics against pediatric vaccines are killing children?
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A Special Drug Just for You, At the End of a Long Pipeline
The New York Times, 11-8-05

Editor’s Notes:

Personalized medicine—the quest to develop drugs and other medicines keyed to a patient’s unique DNA—is on its way. This article, however, shows both how far we’ve come in developing diagnostics to inform medical treatments, and how far we still have to go.
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Ruling in Merck’s favor was an easy choice for jury
The Star-Ledger, 11-6-05

Editor’s Notes:

While it would be foolish to speculate on future Vioxx trials (there are thousands of cases pending across the country), the recent outcome in New Jersey was the result of a jury that took its duties seriously and studied the facts carefully.
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Commentary

Flu shot priorities
Gilbert L. Ross, M.D., Washington Times, 11-9-05

Gilbert Ross argues that if we want to protect Americans who are most at risk from flu infections—the elderly—we should vaccinate the children who are most likely to transmit the disease.
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Health Care Tax Credits: Designing an Alternative to Employer-Based Coverage
Nina Owcharenko, Heritage Foundation, 11-9-05

Owcharenko argues that “any serious tax reform” should look at how “changing the tax treatment of health insurance” can help uninsured Americans get access to affordable coverage through tax credits. But this effort will only succeed if Americans understand how today’s employer-based health care tax exemption distorts the cost and efficiency of health care markets.
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Pandemics and Lawsuits
Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Washington Times, 11-7-05

Goldberg defends the President’s plan to respond to the threat of avian flu by revitalizing the U.S. vaccine industry and protecting companies from frivolous lawsuits.
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Under fire, a giant employer offers a useful health plan
USA Today, 11-7-05

In the midst of a barrage of criticism, USA Today offers Wal-Mart a few words of encouragement. USA Today argues that Wal-Mart’s decision to offer its employees basic health savings accounts is an important reform that should be applauded.
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Guaranteed Future Pain and Suffering: The Recent Research on Drug Price Controls
Derek Hunter, Heritage Foundation, 11-3-05

Pharmaceutical price controls have been the focus of recent Washington debates about ways to tame the federal deficit. But Derek Hunter argues that they are a poisoned chalice that will dampen medical innovation for decades to come.
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Medical Progress Today is published by the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

The Acute Nature of Chronic Problems

NEWS

Crucial Antibiotic Rescues Biotech Maker’s Finances
Cholesterol drug also helps memory
Missing Medicine -- Emergency Response: Fearing Avian Flu, Bioterror, U.S. Scrambles to Fill Drug Gap --- Congress Debates Incentives And Liability Protection For Vaccines, Antibiotics --- Trial Lawyers: 'That's Unfair'
Feuding Over Vaccines; Doctor’s Vexed by Parent’s Refusal
A Special Drug Just for You, At the End of a Long Pipeline
Ruling in Merck’s favor was an easy choice for jury

COMMENTARY

Flu shot priorities
Health Care Tax Credits: Designing an Alternative to Employer-Based Coverage
Pandemics and Lawsuits
Under fire, a giant employer offers a useful health plan
Guaranteed Future Pain and Suffering: The Recent Research on Drug Price Controls
Center for Medical Progress 
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