Just as the public is digesting the fact that former chairman and CEO of drug giant Genentech, Art Levinson, is now the CEO of a new Google life sciences venture with Big Pharma and that he also serves as chairman of Apple Inc., there are more insidious “partnerships” between Pharma and top corporations. Walgreens has now announced a “partnership” with Mental Health America, an advocacy group so steeped in Pharma money, it was investigated by Congress. Continue reading
'We can continue down this harmful path or we can embrace the long-overdue remedy that we know will work: a publicly financed, nonprofit, single-payer system that covers everybody.'
Despite limited advances provided by the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. healthcare system remains “uniquely wasteful” and profit-driven, leaving tens of millions without any insurance and even more underinsured. Continue reading
Interview with Harry Haroutunian, MD, author of ‘Not as Prescribed—Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults.’
Forgetfulness. Falls. Adding a new prescription or over-the-counter drug to address problems that are side effects of a previous drug. It is an increasingly common problem says a new book from Hazelden because people are taking more drugs than ever before and not always aware of their side effects and interactions. This “polypharmacy” can produce everything from falls and accidents to behavior that is quickly termed “dementia” in the elderly even when it is clearly from drug effects. The problem is compounded by doctors not always aware of what other doctors are prescribing a patient and the very addictive nature of many popular drugs today. Continue reading
New Treasury Department rules helped scrap the alleged tax-dodging giant's attempt to merge with overseas firm.
Big Pharma received $127 billion of our tax dollars in 2014 through the federal programs Medicare, Medicaid, VA, and TRICARE. But just because they live on our tax dollars, doesn’t mean Pharma companies want to pay taxes. Increasingly, they seek tax inversions, reincorporating in countries like Britain, Ireland or the Netherlands, often merging with a European entity to duck U.S. taxes. Continue reading
A few inconvenient truths you might need to know before tucking into that next bite of shrimp, beef or bacon.
From mercury in tuna and wood pulp in parmesan cheese to ground beef treated with ammonia to retard E. coli (“pink slime”), the press does a good job exposing the dangerous and deceptive practices of Big Food. The problem is, the public forgets about the food risk or contamination, assuming that reform is in the works and that is just fine with Big Food. Often nothing changes. Continue reading
Information on the important documentary to be released online April 12 states, “CANCER WILL KILL NEARLY 8 MILLION PEOPLE THIS YEAR.” Continue reading
I recently (2016) underwent radiation for breast cancer so I titled this piece “Act II” because this is the second round of radiation for me. The first episode occurred in 2000 for treatment of inoperable throat cancer so I consider myself fortunate that this was not a recurrence of squamous cell cancer of the neck, but a different type of cancer to breast tissue. The breast cancer is a ductal cell type and according to the surgeon and radiologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance they are not related. Continue reading
Pharma is creaming tens of billions out of the federal government in a variety of schemes
After an 18-month investigation into the high cost of Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi—initially listed at $84,000 for a course of treatment or $1,000 per pill—the Senate Finance Committee said the prices did not reflect the cost of research and development and that Gilead cared about “revenue” not “affordability and accessibility.” That sounds like an understatement. Sovaldi and the related pill Harvoni cost Medicare and Medicaid more than $5 billion in 2014, charged senators. Continue reading
The AMA is debating whether direct-to-consumer advertising should be banned
They are so common no one thinks twice about them: drug ads that tell you about a disease you might have, a pill that could treat it, and tell you to “ask your doctor” if the pill is right for you. Continue reading
It goes way beyond meat
It is no secret that our bodies and our environment are swimming in estrogen. Puberty is occurring in children as young as eight and, in 2010, babies in China were reported to be developing breasts. In 2011, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail observed that women’s bra cup sizes were growing even when the women themselves were not gaining weight and speculated it was estrogen exposure. And frogs and fish are becoming “intersex” and losing their male characteristics from endocrine disrupters in the environment and waterways. Continue reading
Consumers, safety activists, Big Food, biotech companies and many of the US’s importing and exporting partners have been closely watching to see if the FDA would approve the genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon, which it did late in 2015. Of course unlabeled GE crops are eaten by millions and GE animals have been created to make human drugs largely under the public radar. Still the AquAdvantage Salmon is the first approved GE animal destined for the US dinner table. Continue reading
Most people couldn’t name one animal drug used to produce their food. Yet conventionally produced US meat is grown with antibiotics, vaccines, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones and other chemicals, most of which people would want to avoid if they were on the label. Continue reading
When the mainstream corporate media raise alarms over the rising costs of health insurance and major problems involving the misnamed Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), you can be sure corporate interests are threatened. Since the open enrollment period for 2016 ACA policies began on November 1, National Public Radio, the New York Times, CNN, etc., all supporters of Obamacare, have issued warnings couched in typical reassuring double-talk about developing problems. Continue reading
The advent of direct-to-consumer advertising made billion dollar blockbuster drugs possible for the first time. Often the drugs were rushed to market before their side effects were fully known or admitted like the cardiac side effects with COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) side effects with bone drugs like Fosamax and Boniva. Continue reading
For an example of how Big Money in politics is causing real harm to average Americans, look at the practice of dentistry in this country. Continue reading
If you’d like to meet someone who is truly “part of the solution,” someone who understands the problems of American health care in a way that few politicians do—and someone who is putting her money where her mouth is to get us healthier—meet Esther Dyson. Continue reading
How much of what we believe about the “safety” of chemical and drug products is planted in journals by industry itself? A lot! Continue reading
If you’ve watched all of the presidential debates so far—both Democratic and Republican—and you were waiting for the candidates to tell you if and how they would change Medicare, you are still waiting. Continue reading
The years between the debut of direct-to-consumer drug (DTC) advertising in the 1990s and passage of the Physician Financial Transparency Reports (Sunshine Act) in 2010 were a kind of “Wild West” for the drug industry. Continue reading
If you’re being hit with a huge rate hike on your individual health plan next year, your insurance carrier likely ‘placed bad bets’ last year.
Minnesotans who get health insurance through the individual market last week became the latest in the country to get unwelcome news: the cost of their coverage will likely go up significantly next year. According to the state’s Commerce Department, which regulates insurance in the North Star state, some customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota may see their premiums jump nearly 50 percent beginning January 1. Continue reading
Candidates say this and that about health care, but it’s the insurers and pharmaceutical companies that call the tune
Presidential candidates from both parties are full of sound and fury about various aspects of the U.S. health care system, but unless we as a nation get serious about big money in politics, all the noise will ultimately amount to nothing. Continue reading
Caution: May induce euphoria
I periodically meet John at the rehabilitation center where I receive occupational therapy for my arthritic fingers, and where he receives treatment for the stroke he suffered several years ago. The stroke left his right arm and leg paralyzed. Continue reading
Firms hold tight to data, so comparing their programs with traditional Medicare not possible
Health insurers have been telling us for years that their Medicare Advantage plans, which are federally funded but privately run alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, can provide better care—at lower cost—than the government. Continue reading
Policyholders end up paying more, according to studies.
If regulators approve the recently announced mega-deals in which Aetna, Inc. would buy Humana Inc. and Anthem, Inc., would buy Cigna Corp., will consumers benefit? Or will the winners be limited primarily to the executives and shareholders of the companies involved? Continue reading
Walker plan envisions a return to an ‘open market’ that rolls back ACA’s consumer protections and ratchets up premiums for women.
If women are beginning to get a tad concerned about what their world might be like if the next occupant of the White House is a Republican, they have more reason to worry now that some of the GOP candidates for president are cluing us in about their Obamacare replacement plans. Continue reading
Before Obamacare became law, Americans faced rejection of individual health coverage for any one of 400 medical conditions
The Republican candidates for president who say they’ll lead the charge to repeal Obamacare if they’re elected (that would be all 17 of them) might want to take note of the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll: more Americans are now for the law than against it. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this. Continue reading
Taking advantage of Medicare Advantage
One of the reasons the health insurance industry worked behind the scenes in 2009 and 2010 to derail Obamacare was the fear that changes mandated by the law would cut their Medicare Advantage profits. Medicare Advantage plans are federally funded but privately run alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Continue reading