On the Right Track

Our medically uninsured are a big problem—and, at least to me, a global embarrassment. But what if the care, once you do get in the system, is questionable? As readers of this Blog know, I've been on a tear about quality of care in acute-care facilities, emphasis on prevention & wellness & chronic care, erratic application of medical "knowledge," obesity, H5N1 preparedness, and the like. (See my recent healthcare "report card" PPT attached.)

Nonetheless I am delighted to report that my "right stuff" healthcare FILE is bulging from recent reportage. E.g.: "Medical Guesswork: From Heart Surgery to Prostate Care, the Medical Industry Knows Little about Which Common Treatments Really Work" (cover, BusinessWeek, 0529). "What Doctors Hate about Hospitals: An Insider's View of What Can Go Wrong—and How You Can Improve Your Odds of Getting the Right Treatment" (cover, Time, 0501). "Pushing Pills: How Big Pharma Got Addicted to Marketing" (cover, Forbes, 0508). "Hey, You Don't Look So Good: As Diagnoses of Once-rare Illnesses Soar, Doctors Say Drugmakers Are 'Disease-mongering' to Boost Sales" (BusinessWeek, 0508). "Teaching Doctors to Care: The Problem With Most Medical Students Is That They've Never Been Really Sick. Now Some Are Learning What It's Like to Be Chronically Ill." (Headline, Time, 0529). "The Politics of Fat" (Time, 0327). "Obesity Tests: Every Four-year-old in the Country to Be Officially Screened" (The Independent on Sunday, UK, 0521*). (Later in the same paper there was a story about McDonald's new XL burger.) "Call for Switch to Preventive Measures as 29 Billion Pound Cost of Heart Disease Is Revealed" (The Independent, UK, 0515).

Great, more or less! At least these issues are beginning to work their way into the consciousness of our citizenry. And hacking at Big Pharma is way overdue, as I see it; the recently retired CEO of a giant med devices company told me last week that for last year's roughly $15 billion in pharmaceutical research among the U.S. Giants, we got exactly ZERO approved drugs. I haven't checked the accuracy of that statement, but given the source I'm assuming it's right on or damn (damningly?) close.