Medical Progress Today
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Volume 4, Number 11
March 16, 2007


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In the Spotlight

Does the Free Lunch Live?

Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D., Medical Progress Today, 3-16-07

So you say there are no free lunches? Princeton University professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, referring to a recent McKinsey study, argues (February 16) that adoption of a single–payer (i.e., government) health insurance program for the U.S. would eliminate the "excess administrative costs" inherent in private health insurance, saving $98 billion annually, while "the cost of providing full medical care to all of America’s uninsured [would be] $77 billion" annually.
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News

Abbott Escalates Thai Patent Rift—Firm Pulls Plans to Offer New Drugs In Spat With Regime
Wall Street Journal, 3-14-07

Editor's Notes:

Beginning last November, Thailand's military–appointed government has issued compulsory licenses for three patented drugs (two AIDS medicines and one for cardiovascular disease) and signaled its intention to issue similar licenses for many more.
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Breast Cancer Drug Wins FDA Approval
Wall Street Journal, 3-14-07

Editor's Notes:

Earlier this week, the FDA approved a new targeted drug for HER2 positive breast cancers. The drug is labeled for use in patients whose disease has failed to respond to an existing HER2 drug, Herceptin. Both drugs combat a cancer mutation prevalent in about 25% of all breast cancers.
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High Deductibles cut down on emergency room visits
Boston Herald, 3-13-07

Editor's Notes:

Advocates of high–deductible health plans have long argued that such plans encourage consumers to economize on their use of the health care system, allowing purchasers of such plans to benefit from lower premiums and slowing the rate of health care inflation. The week, a new Harvard Medical School study found evidence to support this argument, showing that consumers with HDHPs reduced their use of hospital emergency rooms for minor ailments.
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Pediatric Study Costs Rose Substantially from 2000 as Complexity Grew
Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, 3-13-07

Editor's Notes:

Tufts researchers announced this week that, although the cost of drug companies' studies of their medicines in pediatric populations has soared, it hasn't slowed pediatric research thanks to an FDA program that rewards companies with 6 month patent extensions in return for studying selected medicines in children.
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Ex-Chief Urges FDA to Mine Databases
Associated Press, 3-12-07

Editor's Notes:

Former FDA Commissioner and CMS Administrator Mark McClellan spoke at an Institute of Medicine meeting this week and encouraged the FDA to mine databases held by private insurers to help detect safety signals associated with prescription drugs.
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Commentary

The Thai Flu
Wall Street Journal, 3-14-07

The Journal discusses Abbott's announcement that is will not market any new drugs in Thailand in response to the government's compulsory license of Abbott's AIDS medicine Kaletra.
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Disruptive Innovation: Can Health Care Learn From Other Industries? A Conversation with Clayton M. Christensen
Health Affairs, 3-13-07

Christensen, a noted Harvard Business School professor and consultant, argues in this Health Affairs interview that health care costs will drop once innovations make "more and more areas of care cheaper, simpler, and more in the hands of patients."
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Thai Patent Turmoil
Ron Cass, Wall Street Journal Asia, 3-12-07

Cass argues that Thailand's recent assault on pharmaceutical patents is being driven not by public health considerations but by crass budget calculations.
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Medicine and Markets
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Forbes, 3-12-07

Gottlieb warns that Congress' attempts to publicize (and politicize) the prices that pharmaceutical benefit managers are getting for seniors in the Medicare drug benefit will have the perverse effect of eroding those discounts and reducing taxpayers savings in the program.
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Research

Care Patterns in Medicare and Their Implications for Pay for Performance
Hoangmai H. Pham, M.D., M.P.H., New England Journal of Medicine, 3-15-07

Researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine warn that health gains from pay–for–performance incentives will be limited because our fragmented health care system makes it difficult to measure the respective contributions of the several different physicians who may find themselves caring for a single patient.
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Pharmacogenomics: an Assessment of Market Conditions and Competition
Academy Health, 3-1-07

Academy Health finds that the nascent science of pharmacogenomics (PGx), i.e. how drugs interact with genetics, faces several formidable challenges before it can become widespread in the marketplace—particularly because our reimbursement system is badly aligned with the concept of personalized medicine.
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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Does the Free Lunch Live?

NEWS

Abbott Escalates Thai Patent Rift—Firm Pulls Plans to Offer New Drugs In Spat With Regime
Breast Cancer Drug Wins FDA Approval
High Deductibles cut down on emergency room visits
Pediatric Study Costs Rose Substantially from 2000 as Complexity Grew
Ex-Chief Urges FDA to Mine Databases

COMMENTARY

The Thai Flu
Disruptive Innovation: Can Health Care Learn From Other Industries? A Conversation with Clayton M. Christensen
Thai Patent Turmoil
Medicine and Markets

RESEARCH

Care Patterns in Medicare and Their Implications for Pay for Performance
Pharmacogenomics: an Assessment of Market Conditions and Competition

COMING SOON!!

New book by Regina Herzlinger: Who Killed Health Care: America's $1.5 Trillion Problem - and the Consumer-Driven Cure (McGraw-Hill, June 2007)

Advanced copies available now at Amazon

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