Medical Progress Today
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Volume 4, Number 2
January 12, 2007


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In the Spotlight

We oppose negotiations on Medicare Part D drug prices

Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D., et al., Medical Progress Today, 1-12-07

(This open letter was originally published in The Hill on January 10, 2007 )

We are deeply concerned about proposed legislation that would lead to negotiation of pharmaceutical prices by the federal government for the new Medicare Part D drug benefit.
Continue reading . . .

News

CBO Faults Medicare Drug Plan
Associated Press, 1-11-07

Editor's Notes:

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote today (January 12th) on a bill that requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices for seniors in the Medicare drug benefit.
Continue reading . . .

Experts Fault House Bill on Medicare Drug Prices; Comparison Called Invalid
Washington Post, 1-11-07

Editor's Notes:

One of the most frequent criticisms of the Medicare drug benefit is that it doesn't produce prices as low as that obtained by the Veteran's Administration through its drug formulary. This article explains why comparing the two programs is mixing "apples and oranges".
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Limited Menu: Japan’s ‘Cancer Refugees’ Demand More Options – Patients Decry System That’s Frugal, Universal but Restricts Choices
Wall Street Journal, 1-11-07

Editor's Notes:

This Journal article offers a look at how centralized health care systems abroad treat cancer patients. Unsurprisingly, the options available to these patients are highly limited compared to the U.S.
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States Bridling at Insulin's Cost, Push for Generics
The New York Times, 1-11-07

Editor's Notes:

The Times reports that some states, concerned about rising treatment costs for diabetic Medicaid patients, are pushing the FDA to create a generic approval process for biologically produced medicines like insulin, which they hope will lower drug costs.
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Congress mulls how to expand U.S. health insurance
Reuters News, 1-10-07

Editor's Notes:

Providing universal health insurance is quickly becoming a hot-button issue for policymakers across the country, spurred by Massachusetts's passage of legislation mandating insurance coverage last year. On Monday, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger laid out his own plan for universal insurance coverage in that state. Following the state's lead, Congress is mulling legislation of its own.
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Halting heart drugs a big risk, study finds
The Globe and Mail, 1-10-07

Editor's Notes:

As the old saying goes, you can always lead a horse to water—the trick is to get him to drink. When it comes to health care, prescribing the right medicine for patients is only the first step. Physicians also have to be careful to ensure that patients take their meds correctly and regularly, and that they follow up (where possible) with appropriate life-style changes. This article underscores that without patient compliance, there is only so much doctors can do to improve health.
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Healthcare Spending Eases Off
Los Angeles Times, 1-9-07

Editor's Notes:

The Times reports on federal data showing that health care spending slowed somewhat in 2005, although it still surged well ahead of other economic indicators.
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Gov. Offers Bold Prescription
Los Angeles Times, 1-9-07

Editor's Notes:

Following on the heels of Gov. Romney's health care reforms in Massachusetts, Gov. Schwarzenegger recently announced his own plan for universal health care coverage in California:
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Scientists See Potential in Amniotic Stem Cells: They are Highly Versatile and Readily Available
Washington Post, 1-8-07

Editor's Notes:

While there is a fierce debate raging over the government's current ban on federal funding for new lines of embryonic stem cell research, researchers have announced a new source of stem cells that abrogates the ethical concerns raised by the destruction of embryonic cells:
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Commentary

Medicare and the Market: Government Shouldn’t Be Negotiating Prescription Prices
Mike Leavitt, Washington Post, 1-11-07

Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, explains why the government shouldn't become the nation's drug-negotiator in chief.
Continue reading . . .

License to Ill
Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D., National Review Online, 1-11-07

Dr. Benjamin Zycher, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, explains why federal price negotiations over drugs will inevitably shortchange patient choice and health.
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Terminatorcare
David R. Henderson, Wall Street Journal, 1-10-07

Henderson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, dissects Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan for universal health care in California, particularly as it bears on the uninsured.
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Medicare Part D and Prescription Drug Prices
Policy Fact Sheet

Mark McClellan, et al., Pacific Research Institute, 1-9-07

This fact sheet, signed by a number of scholars from leading free market think tanks, explains why the recent success of the Medicare Part D drug benefit shouldn't be undermined by federal price negotiations.
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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

We oppose negotiations on Medicare Part D drug prices

NEWS

CBO Faults Medicare Drug Plan
Experts Fault House Bill on Medicare Drug Prices; Comparison Called Invalid
Limited Menu: Japan’s ‘Cancer Refugees’ Demand More Options – Patients Decry System That’s Frugal, Universal but Restricts Choices
States Bridling at Insulin's Cost, Push for Generics
Congress mulls how to expand U.S. health insurance
Halting heart drugs a big risk, study finds
Healthcare Spending Eases Off
Gov. Offers Bold Prescription
Scientists See Potential in Amniotic Stem Cells: They are Highly Versatile and Readily Available

COMMENTARY

Medicare and the Market: Government Shouldn’t Be Negotiating Prescription Prices
License to Ill
Terminatorcare
Medicare Part D and Prescription Drug Prices
Policy Fact Sheet
Center for Medical Progress 
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