Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Monday, March 04, 2013

Scrutinize the Pharma-Doctor Complex

Two drug executives walked into a bar. No, this is not the start of a joke. The workers for Roche, a Swiss drugs firm, had been dining with doctors after a medical conference. At the bar, alleged an anonymous complaint in a recent report by a British industry watchdog, they bought the doctors drinks (“shots of varying colours flowed like hot lava”). One executive danced on stage, prompting bar staff to throw him out. Roche maintains its managers ran into the doctors and did not buy them drinks. But the evening hardly seems like the finest moment in the history of ties between doctors and drug companies.

That relationship is a poorly regulated muddle. At one (beneficial) extreme, firms work with doctors to create new treatments. At the other end of the spectrum, firms bribe doctors to prescribe their drugs. America’s justice department has wrung huge settlements from companies over such charges. Between these poles is a lot of activity deemed standard by some, repugnant by others—and which is increasingly subject to new law.  This month American regulators released rules to implement a so-called Sunshine law designed to improve transparency. France passed a similar law in 2011. Firms in Britain are planning voluntary disclosures. By 2015 more than 70% of drug sales will be in countries with such measures, according to Deloitte, a consultancy.

America’s health-care market, the world’s biggest, is particularly busy. In 2012 pharmaceutical companies spent more than $24 billion marketing drugs to doctors, according to Cegedim Strategic Data, a research firm; 35% of doctors accept food, entertainment or travel from the pharmaceutical industry, said a survey by Deloitte last year, while 16% accept consulting or speaking fees. In most states, doctors take regular courses to maintain their licences. In 2011 drug and device companies sponsored nearly a third of the medical training tracked by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Such chumminess has long raised fears about undue influence. In 2008 two health-industry groups set tighter, voluntary standards for companies. In 2009 America’s Institute of Medicine, an advisory body, urged much stricter regulation to prevent conflicts of interest. Legislative action, though, has been slow, especially at the federal level. 

The Sunshine law, passed as part of Barack Obama’s health reform, is the first national requirement for transparency. Each year drug and device firms must disclose payments and other “transfers of value” to doctors. They must also report research fees and doctors’ investment interests. The first filing will appear on a public database by September 30th, 2014. The rule’s broader effects are uncertain. It does not limit firms’ interactions with doctors; it merely requires them to be reported. Certain marketing techniques, such as providing free drug samples, are exempt. And in some ways the law is already out of date. It regulates only doctors and some hospitals, not nurses, pharmacists or hospital bureaucrats who have a growing role in patients’ treatment. Nevertheless, the Sunshine law is likely to lead to at least one change. Firms already have data on each doctor’s prescriptions, points out Chris Wright of ZS Associates, a consultancy. The Sunshine law will also provide them with exhaustive data on how much they and their competitors spend to market drugs to that doctor. This will let firms track which type of marketing spurs the most prescriptions. Companies will not stop wooing doctors. They may simply get better at it.

Source - The Economist

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Oil and Vulgarity

It is time to end our oil nightmare - where a few people have won the lottery and are using their winnings to pillage the rest of the world and the rest are toiling for nothing and the planet is going to seed...

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Hate Profiteering

The Untold War

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Sunday, July 25, 2010

What Your Hospital Does Not Want You To Know offers a few essential facts about hospitals that you should know before you check in:

Stay Healthy in July
July is the most dangerous month to visit a hospital. That's the month when students graduate from medical school and start doing residencies at teaching hospitals. Deaths due to hospital medication errors spike by 10 percent in July.

Hospital Wait Times
Hospitals have terrible wait times, which may actually be endangering patients. Patients who need to be seen within 14 minutes of arriving ended up having to wait more than twice as long.

The Rise of Bedsores
In recent years, the number of hospital patients suffering from bedsores has increased significantly. In order to prevent them, ask your doctor or whoever is accompanying you to make sure that you change positions every couple hours, keep your skin clean and prop yourself up with pillows to relieve the pressure.

Risk of Infections
There are 1.7 million cases of hospital infections every year, and 99,000 deaths that are related to these infections.

Medical Identity Theft
To date, 1.5 million Americans have had their personal information stolen so that someone else can use your health care to cover their costs. At the moment, hospitals are struggling to deal with this problem.

Bills May Be Negotiable
Most Americans have been the victim of hospital bill shock at one point or another, but it's important to remember that sometimes these bills are negotiable. Some hospitals have been known to drop the price by a third or more.

Hospitals Scan Your Credit Reports
Some hospitals have taken up the controversial practice of looking at patient credit scores, credit card limits and even 401(k) information. The issue has raised privacy concerns among consumer advocacy groups.

Get to Know Your Anesthesiologist
An inept anesthesiologist can cause serious harm to a patient, including death in the worst case scenario. It's best that you request to interview anesthesiologists before your procedure so that you can feel confident you're getting the best care.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing information about healthful eating, exercise, and stress management is because these basic strategies can help keep you out of the hospital.

There are plenty of reasons – health related or otherwise -- for wanting to avoid hospitals, and several valid ones are listed in the Main Street article above, from having your identity stolen to getting killed...

Over the past decade, health care settings have become increasingly dangerous, mainly because hospitals are prime breeding grounds for newer, deadly superbugs like MRSA and other serious infections. Other reasons include understaffing and human mistakes.

The Frightening Statistics of Hospital Infection Rates

According to CDC statistics, approximately 1.7 million Americans contract infections during hospital stays, and 99,000 deaths are attributed to these infections each year! And that's just ONE cause of death directly attributable to the medical system you entrust with your health care needs.

Most of these hospital acquired infections could be avoided if hospitals maintained stricter infection control measures; simple strategies such as washing hands before touching each patient, and making sure bedding is cleaned, for example, go a long way to ensure a safer environment.

As I've mentioned many times before, the modern health care system as a whole is the leading cause of death in the US. And well intentioned but ill-informed US doctors are the third leading cause of death. Their mistakes claim some 225,000 lives every year.

Knowing what we know about infection rates in hospitals, I strongly recommend checking yours out. In the above article, Main Street provides a helpful link to Consumer Reports' listing of infection rates at major hospitals across the US.

You can review this list and see how the hospitals in your area fare before you plan an elective surgery, for example.

Should you fall ill, either ask to be taken to another hospital, or ask a friend or family member to stay with you to ensure proper hygiene measures are employed.

Americans Pay TWICE as Much for Health Care, but Receive the WORST Quality of Care
This was true in 2008, and over the past two years absolutely nothing has changed.

American medical care is still the most expensive in the world. We spend twice as much for health care, per person, than other industrialized countries. And we're still in last place among seven countries surveyed, when it comes to preventing avoidable deaths and providing quality care.

The US also has a drastically different range of life expectancy between people living in richer or poorer states. A 30- year gap now exists in the average life expectancy between Mississippi, in the Deep South, and Connecticut, in prosperous New England.

Sadly, the decline in life expectancy in these worst-off areas are primarily caused by a rise in a number of preventable diseases, such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes, highlighting the dire need for proper health education and preventive measures.

The latest Commonwealth Fund report -- which used data from "nationally representative patient and physician surveys in seven countries in 2007, 2008, and 2009" -- again ranked the United States dead last, compared to Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Reuters:

"The report looks at five measures of healthcare -- quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives.

Britain, whose nationalized healthcare system was widely derided by opponents of U.S. healthcare reform, ranks first in quality while the Netherlands ranked first overall on all scores, the Commonwealth team found."

Ironically, researchers are also finding that Americans are increasingly being over-treated to death. Treatments that buy only weeks of time are frequently employed when patients are terminally ill, or dying from old age. Meanwhile, medical bills are a leading cause of family bankruptcies.

Again, most diseases and health conditions in the US are treated incorrectly and inefficiently, at extremely high cost, and I believe a major part of this problem is lack of prevention.

Focusing our efforts on educating about healthful lifestyle strategies could make all the difference, along with reducing our knee-jerk inclination to treat every symptom with toxic drugs.

BEWARE of July – The Most Dangerous Month for Any Hospital Stay

If you live near a teaching hospital, you'll want to pay attention to these stats.
In the US, medical students graduate and begin their residences in July each year, and as a result of inexperience combined with the sleep deprivation, medication- and other medical errors in teaching hospitals spike upward. Additionally many inexperienced interns and residents join the staff.

Nationally, error rates go up by 10 percent in July in teaching hospitals, a recent study shows, while non-teaching hospital error rates stay more or less fixed.

I agree with Main Street's advice to investigate whether your local hospital is a teaching hospital or not, and if you do get sick, either request another hospital, or at least be prepared to ask more questions to make sure you're getting appropriate care.

How to Survive in a Diseased Health Paradigm

In January of this year, Reuters reported that the U.S. spent $2.3 trillion dollars on health care in 2008. But although this was slightly less than projected, showing the slowest rise in health care costs in nearly 50 years, it's still dramatically disproportionate compared to what other nations are capable of accomplishing with less than half of what the US spends.

By 2017, health care spending is projected to exceed $4 trillion. This is largely due to the reliance on a medical system that treats only symptoms and never the cause of disease. The US also tends to over-test and over-treat, and I think it's obvious by now that most Americans are grossly over-medicated.

Still, every available index shows that this multitrillion dollar investment is a miserable failure.

More drugs, more surgeries, and more medical tests do not equal better health. All it does is bankrupt individuals, and the nation as a whole.

Will anything change as the US health care reform takes effect?

I sincerely doubt it, because the attitude toward health care is not being properly addressed. The reform is simply trying to figure out how to keep paying these exorbitant prices.
Preventive measures are still largely ignored.

I still believe you can influence this negative trend, however, by changing your own attitude toward health by realizing that some of the best ways to improve your health are very inexpensive. Some are even free.

Folks, you CAN Take Control of Your Health. You don't have to be just another sad statistic.

Saturday, July 03, 2010