Notes & Links: September 12, 2013

The Public Needs to Wise Up About Medicare Spending
Adrianna Mcintyre writing in The Incidental Economist shares data from a recent report in the NEJM “The Public and the Conflict over Future Medicare Spending“. In her opening paragraph Adrianna captures the money shot on this report. 

Robert Blendon and John Benson find, among other things, that people generally don’t understand the role Medicare plays in the federal budget deficit—which matters, since the legislators responsible for reducing that deficit tend to care about reelection.

We as a community/nation/individuals don’t get Medicare and basically driven by misinformation from those seeking reelection. What is sad is that the majority of media or experts site the following three leading causes for rising Meiicare costs are: poor management, fraud and abuse, and excessive charges by hospitals. The lowest ranked reason, new drugs and treatments being offered to seniors. There is a great chart showing just the opposite. Technology is driving costs most of all. Below is a quote pulled from the NEJM article.

This article goes further and seeks to document the underlying beliefs that may shape the public response to future efforts to substantially slow projected Medicare spending. Our thesis is that there exists today a wide gap in beliefs between experts on the financial state of Medicare and the public at large. Because of the potential electoral consequences, these differences in perception are likely to have ramifications for policymakers addressing this issue.

Take the time to read the NEJM article as well as the link to it at The Incidental Economist. It is important for both the nations finances and its health we understand what is going on with Medicare.

Death of Porn Star
Tim Lahey, MD writing on the Healthcare Blog writes about the recent announcement that Cameron Bay a porn actress tested positive for HIV. Beyond the usual self righteous offensive and nasty tweets and comments Dr. Lahey makes us stop to consider the reality of this diagnosis and what it means. 

Porn stars, too, are easy to oversimplify. Dressed (at least temporarily) in garish or stereotypical costumes, they have sex on camera, they say things most can’t imagine saying, and they behave on screen like simplified primal versions of the complicated people of ordinary life. We project a mixture of desire, disdain, and pity on them, and often we forget to consider the person under all that exposed skin.

Indeed the person under that skin. Take a moment to read this article and consider the person. 

Majority of Viagra Bought Online May Be Fake, and Possibly Dangerous, Research Shows
Not sure I am being incentive presenting “Death of a  Porn Star” followed by this but the article in Forbes written by Melanie Haiken addresses a larger issue, online pharmacies in general. And since I get about a dozen or more requests to by this stuff online I couldn’t not read the article. 

The reference to Viagra was in fact an abstract presented at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine and showed that 77% of all Viagra purchased online from 22 different sites was counterfeit. (An aside: it was an abstract funded by Pfizer). 

Other data shared:

Somewhat cumbersomely titled Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators, July 2013, the report revealed that only 257 of 10,275 online pharmacy sites it examined could be considered legitimate.

Not so fast:

The belief that most online pharmacies are suspect and that most Viagra sold online is fake is not universal, however. In fact, says Roger Bate, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Phake: The Deadly World of Falsified and Substandard Medicines, his own tests of drugs sold online found the vast majority to be authentic and those sold by credentialed online pharmacies to be 100 percent authentic. Bate published a paper in 2010 finding that just 7.3 percent of Viagra samples purchased online failed spectrometry testing and proved to be fake

Who to believe? Even a small percent is fake consider what is in the fake. This is what was found. 

  • Blue printer ink
  • Speed or amphetamine
  • The antibiotic Metronidazole (Flagyl)
  • Drywall and plaster
  • Other ingredients and dyesused to mimic the texture and color of real Viagra


Fourteen Oddball Reasons You’re Not Dead Yet

Laura Helmuth in Slate shares, yes oddball, facts that have extended our life expectancy not one of them has to do with Obamacare or preventive medicine. Okay check that, there is a reason or two from government regulations. Here is the list. Hop over and take a look at the details. 

  • Satellites
  • Fluoride
  • Window screens
  • Unconscious bias
  • Botts’ Dots (Those are the raised ceramic reflectors between road lanes)
  • Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
  • Air-conditiong 
  • The resident of Framingham, MA
  • Pasteurization
  • Shoes
  • Cows
  • Oppressive, burdensome, over-reaching government regulations

Thanks to Liz Borkowski on ScienceBlogs for this link.