Medical Progress Today
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Volume 3, Number 32
September 29, 2006


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In the Spotlight

How Depressed are U.S. Drug Consumers?

John Vernon, Rexford Santerre, Medical Progress Today, 9-29-06

Few political issues generate as much fervor and public outrage as the perceived high cost of prescription drugs and the lack of universal drug insurance in the United States. In recent years, numerous legislative efforts have been undertaken to reduce the consumer misery associated with pharmaceuticals. Despite such efforts, the common perception is, and has been, that the situation is getting worse for U.S. consumers of prescription medicines. But has it? We recently conducted a study to determine if U.S. consumers of prescription drugs are more miserable today than they were five, ten, or twenty years ago. We accomplished this with a constructed index we call the Prescription Drug Misery Index (PDMI). The idea for our PDMI comes from Arthur Okun who, as economic advisor to President Johnson, created an economy–wide misery index by summing the general price inflation and unemployment rates in the U.S.
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News

Health Care Costs Rise Twice as Much as Inflation
The New York Times, 9-27-06

Editor's Notes:

The average income of American workers—with a brief exception in the mid-1990s—has been largely stagnant for decades. One—perhaps the—reason is that health care costs have risen during that time much faster than the general inflation rate, and since most employees receive health insurance through their employers, increases in employee compensation have been funneled into health insurance subsidies rather than take–home income.
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Coalition Launches Campaign to Increase the FDA's Budget
The Boston Globe, 9-26-06

Editor's Notes:

One thing that almost all FDA watchers can agree on is that the FDA's responsibilities far outstrip its budget, and there is a growing call for additional agency funding.
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Millions of Seniors Facing Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'
Washington Post, 9-25-06

Editor's Notes:

While talk about the gap in Medicare Part D coverage, the infamous "doughnut hole" where seniors pay 100% of their drug costs out of pocket up to $3600, has kicked into high gear, it seems not to have become the political firestorm that critics expected.
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Target Offers Cheap Drugs Too
The Miami Herald, 9-23-06

Editor's Notes:

Following Wal-Mart's lead, Target has announced that it will offer hundreds of generic prescription drugs at $4 for a thirty–day supply. These announcements, by two of America’s leading retailers, underscore the reality that the U.S. has the most robust price competition in the world between branded and generic drugs—a competition that, by all measures is set to intensify in the next several years some of the industry's leading blockbuster drugs go off–patent.
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FDA Told U.S Drug System Is Broken
Washington Post, 9-23-06

Editor's Notes:

The Institute of Medicine released the results of a two year study into of FDA's drug safety programs—and the findings have been interpreted as a scathing indictment of the agency.
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Hospital Bills Top Health Care Tabs
Washington Times, 0-0-00

Editor's Notes:

America's spending on prescription drugs is only about 11–12% of total health care costs, but is a head–line grabbing topic, largely because of Americans’ ambivalence about drug companies. Hospital spending, on the other hand, is the nation's biggest health care expense but generates much less public hand–wringing despite wide variations in the quality of care and billions of dollars in wasted spending.
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Commentary

Routine Testing for the AIDS Virus
The New York Times, 9-25-06

The Times endorses a federal recommendation that H.I.V. testing should become an integral part of routine doctor's visits for the vast majority of Americans.
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Common Sense on Medicare
Chicago Tribune, 9-25-06

The Tribune praises a "monumental shift in thinking about Medicare": means testing for Medicare benefits.
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Light at the End of the Malaria Tunnel
Richard Tren, Campaign for Fighting Diseases, 9-22-06

Tren surveys the growing acceptance among international donors of the use of residual indoor spraying with DDT to help control malaria outbreaks in developing nations–although he also warns that EU sanctions may undercut IRS spraying.
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Medical Mindset
Sally C. Pipes, National Review Online, 9-21-06

Pipes takes issue with recent calls for the U.S. to adopt a single–payer health care system in order to reign in rising health care costs. After cataloging the ills of Canadian health care, she reviews the options available to policymakers.
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Research

The State of Health Care Quality
National Center for Quality Assurance, 9-27-06

This report underscores one of the longstanding problems of American health care—poor collection of information on health care outcomes and quality–and suggests how this problem can be remedied.
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The Future of Drug Safety: Promoting and Protecting the Health of the Public
Institute of Medicine, 9-22-06

A full version of the Institute of Medicine report can be found online:
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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

How Depressed are U.S. Drug Consumers?

NEWS

Health Care Costs Rise Twice as Much as Inflation
Coalition Launches Campaign to Increase the FDA's Budget
Millions of Seniors Facing Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'
Target Offers Cheap Drugs Too
FDA Told U.S Drug System Is Broken
Hospital Bills Top Health Care Tabs

COMMENTARY

Routine Testing for the AIDS Virus
Common Sense on Medicare
Light at the End of the Malaria Tunnel
Medical Mindset

RESEARCH

The State of Health Care Quality
The Future of Drug Safety: Promoting and Protecting the Health of the Public
Center for Medical Progress 
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