It's All About the Drugs...

Ok, I couldn't stay away. There's just too much going on in American healthcare this week.

It's definitely been a Big week for Big Pharma.

First, the Los Angeles Times broke this story, in which two former Amgen (click here for company website) sales reps allege the firm used an invasive program to access dermatologists' patient files and contact patients directly to market psoriasis treatment Rx Enbrel.

In addition to having sales reps write letters to patients on physician letterhead suggesting Enbrel (and having them signed by the docs), the firm may also have provided incentives to physicians who cooperated, in the form of payments for dinner-dance type lectures.

Definitely worth the time spent for a 2 page read. Click here for the HealthLeaders Media link.

In other news, the DC Council again passed Bill 17-364, otherwise known as the SafeRx act (in a narrow vote of 7-6).

And for your analytical pleasure, you can read the act itself here.

If you're really, really Type A (or interested in how the vote broke down for lobbying purposes), you can click here to see how each Council member voted (select session 17 and the Council member's name; for most it will be located on page 13 of the results).

Turns out not one changed his or her mind; the members voting for and against were unchanged from the initial vote to yesterday's final vote.

For a quick recap on SafeRx, here's my original breaking news blog entry. Here's my followup after the initial vote.

For coverage on the final vote (Tuesday 1.8.07) - here's a Washington Business Journal piece.

And then of course, if you haven't seen it already, there's Glenn Beck's tale of medication-related woe following a recent, ahem, surgery of a rather personal nature.

As a patient who, 5 days out of an MVA with lower limb trauma and reconstructive surgeries, experienced all kinds of interesting side effects due to a narcotic pain cocktail (too many meds for lil ol' me) and started voluntarily refusing morphine and my PCA (to the consternation of my pain management team and the panicked disbelief of my dad "she CAN'T do that can she? I mean, she CAN'T just REFUSE her medications?!"), I can empathize with some of his obvious fear and frustration.

Blogger's Note: I have other opinions on Glenn's story content, his YouTube video-which may be a potentially pain-killer assisted broadcast, and the way Beck relates his experiences, but that's a post for another type of blog, or the Rants and Raves board of Craigslist.org. He has some points to be considered. Click here to see the ABC News followup.

If all the drug-related scuttlebutt wasn't enough to ring in the New Year in American healthcare in a big way, there's The Commonwealth Fund study that places the USA in dead last place for healthcare performance among developed countries.

Click here to read a TCF synopsis. Guess who's first? C'est la vie.

On the other hand, from across the pond there's this good news. Slainte! Talk about it being time for big changes. Ain't it a grand era to be in healthcare?!

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