Retail prices for a 30 day supply of generic Zocor (simvastatin) ranged from $6.97 at Sam’s Club to $131.99 at Rite Aid. Can you imagine seeing price differentials like that for any other product? It would be interesting to see how things look a year later, now that Wal-Mart has made people aware of the possibility of $4 generics.
I’ve never been enthusiastic about mini-med plans –health plans that typically cap reimbursement at $25,000 to $50,000 per year. In some ways they are the opposite of insurance because they pay for routine expenses but not catastrophic ones. However I have to admit there is another side to the story, and I’ve come to understand the plans’ appeal to those who can’t afford traditional coverage.
I’m in favor of a liberal immigration policy on moral grounds. There’s also a strong economic argument for immigration: immigrants fill important positions in health care and other sectors of the economy (think doctors, nurses, home care aides) and foreign-born entrepreneurs are the key to our dynamic economy. Make the US hostile to immigrants and we will find ourselves in serious trouble.
I hosted the health policy blog carnival, featuring posts on Dr. Steven Nissen (of Avandia fame), regulation, insurance and payment policies, statistics, and that traveler with TB.
I went to Singapore to visit hospitals as part of my research on medical tourism. I posted a seven-part diary containing my impressions of various hospitals and my observations on the country and its people. I also launched MedTripInfo, a site devoted to medical tourism.
Medical tourism has mainly been a self-pay phenomenon, but that’s changing. I enumerated 11 questions that US plans and employers should be asking about medical tourism and eventually developed a white paper to cover the topic more fully.
Pharmaceutical companies seem to be catching up to the rest of the economy in outsourcing manufacturing. But there are important differences between the pharmaceutical industry and others, making outsourcing decisions considerably more complex. My partner, Pat Kager and I followed up this post with an article on the topic that will be published soon in Pharmaceutical Executive.
Health 2.0 companies tend to get lumped together, but there’s a great deal of difference among sites. Daily Strength’s leading “huggers,” at the time of this post included people with Paranoid Personality Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Talk about user generated content! That’s a lot different from the users of PatientsLikeMe, whose focus on careful documentation of the clinical progress of patients with diseases like ALS is a much more powerful expression of Health 2.0’s potential.
Avastin’s decision to halt distribution of Avastin to compounding pharmacies caused a big kerfuffle among ophthalmologists and retina specialists. They prefer using repackaged Avastin for $40 rather than Genentech’s nearly identical drug Lucentis for $2000. I wrote several pieces on the controversy including this interview. I’d like to see someone try a software licensing model in the pharmaceutical industry, which could resolve some of these issues (while creating new problems, which I acknowledge).
I spent several days in South Korea and wrote a 10-part series on the country from a medical tourism perspective. This post sums up my very positive views of the place.
I spoke with the CEO of one of my favorite Health 2.0 companies, PatientsLikeMe. The site is a social network for patients with life-changing illnesses. Ben’s brother had ALS –or Lou Gehrig’s Disease– which was the impetus for the site. PatientsLikeMe has since added other conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, and HIV.
Patients are being encouraged to challenge their physicians and nurses on whether they’ve washed their hands. I know people are doing it but it seems awkward, impractical and just plain wrong to place this expectation on patients.
Gentle reader, thank you for your continued indulgence!March 3, 2008