Medical Progress Today
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Volume 3, Number 17
May 15, 2006


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In the Spotlight

Going Out of State

David Gratzer, New York Sun, 5-10-06

With health insurance premiums spiraling upward, efforts to cut costs are crucial. Rep. John Shadegg, a Republican of Arizona, champions a simple and elegant idea: Allow people to shop around for insurance out of state. To those in New York and New Jersey, this would result in savings of thousands of dollars a year, and reduce the number of uninsured. Sound good? Here's the problem: The strongest opposition to the idea comes from congressmen in those same two states. These members of Congress need to take a hard look at why insurance costs are so high in their home districts.
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News

Small Business Insurance Stalls in Senate
Houston Chronicle, 5-11-06

Editor's Notes:

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. In Washington D.C., no good legislation ever gets passed without first being hammered by the opposition. This is certainly the case with Senator Enzi's association health plan legislation, which would allow small employers to band together on the national level to buy health insurance for their employees outside of heavily regulated state markets. Democrats paint the legislation as enabling a race to the bottom where small businesses would offer worse–than–nothing coverage to their employees.
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Orphan, But Not Rare: Pipeline Is Full And Approvals Are Up
The Pink Sheet, 5-8-06

Editor's Notes:

This article chronicles the growing number of FDA approvals for so–called "orphan diseases", or medicines used to treat diseases that afflict 200,000 or fewer Americans annually. The Pink Sheet notes that the FDA is on pace for a record number of orphan drug approvals in 2006. It credits the growth in orphan drugs over the last 20 years to advances in biotechnology combined with marketing and tax incentives for orphan drug research.
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$1 Billion Awarded For Flu Vaccine
Washington Post, 5-5-06

Editor's Notes:

The U.S. government is using a relatively big carrot—$1 billion in new funding—to encourage five pharmaceutical companies to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity in the U.S. using cutting edge technology. The investment is being driven by concerns over a potential avian flu pandemic, but it also is an initiative designed to reverse decades of atrophy in U.S.–based vaccine manufacturing.
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FDA at 100: Six Alumni Take Its Temperature
Medical Marketing and Media, 5-1-06

Editor's Notes:

This year marks the hundred–year anniversary of the FDA, an opportune time to reflect on the challenges the agency has faced in the past and how it is weathering current controversies. In this article, six former senior FDA staffers talk candidly about the "agency's mission going forward, its leadership, drug safety, Plan B and the Critical Path Initiative." A must read for anyone interested in how the agency balances safety and efficacy concerns—along with Washington, D.C. politics.
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Commentary

Get the Facts: Attacks on President Bush's drug plan could be costing seniors dearly
Orlando Sentinel, 5-10-06

This editorial, from the Orlando Sentinel, encourages seniors to look past politically motivated criticisms of the Medicare "part D" drug benefit and "get the facts" about the plan in advance of the May 15 deadline for seniors to choose a prescription drug insurance plan without penalties.
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Lowering the Opportunity Cost for Drug Development
David B. Agus, Faster Cures, 5-10-06

Agus offers, from the perspective of a cancer physician and researcher, several reasons to be optimistic about the direction of cancer research. Agus believes that, in the relatively near term future, the search for new cancer treatments will become significantly faster, cheaper, and more efficient as new technologies focus on the mechanistic causes of the disease.
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Congress Drops the Ball on Medical Liability Reform
Bill Frist, The Seattle Times, 5-10-06

Senator Bill Frist, in this op–ed from the Seattle Times, discusses how medical malpractice litigation inhibits access to physicians in Washington State and across the country. At the moment, national medical malpractice reform is stalled in the U.S. Senate.
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Health Insurance Showdown
Wall Street Journal, 5-9-06

The Wall Street Journal describes legislation in the Senate and House, respectively, that would help deregulate insurance markets for individuals and small businesses, spurring competition and making health insurance more available and affordable for millions of Americans.
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Research

Elderly Not Adherent to Concomitant Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Therapy
Medscape, 5-10-06

Controlling the progression of expensive diseases with inexpensive treatments—for instance, using statin drugs to lower a patient's high cholesterol in order to prevent a heart attack—is one of the ways that modern medicine can help lower the total cost of health care. This assumes, of course, that existing treatments to control disease are being used effectively by patients who can most benefit from them. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that many of the patients most at risk for high–cost complications from diabetes or heart disease are using disease management treatments sporadically or improperly even when they are prescribed. This study, for instance, reported data showing that:
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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Going Out of State

NEWS

Small Business Insurance Stalls in Senate
Orphan, But Not Rare: Pipeline Is Full And Approvals Are Up
$1 Billion Awarded For Flu Vaccine
FDA at 100: Six Alumni Take Its Temperature

COMMENTARY

Get the Facts: Attacks on President Bush's drug plan could be costing seniors dearly
Lowering the Opportunity Cost for Drug Development
Congress Drops the Ball on Medical Liability Reform
Health Insurance Showdown

RESEARCH

Elderly Not Adherent to Concomitant Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Therapy
Center for Medical Progress 
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