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It’s time for your annual physical. You make an appointment with your doctor and mark the date on your calendar. But when the day arrives, you don’t set aside two to three hours or wait for a nurse to call your name in a sterile doctor’s office. You log onto your laptop from the comfort of your living room. The process takes less than 30 minutes. For many Americans, this was a reality amid the pandemic, when lots of care was delivered...

America’s vaccination campaign is stalling. In late June, pharmacists and other providers were administering roughly 800,000 shots a day — down 80 percent from a peak of more than 4.6 million in mid April. Because of this precipitous decline, the Biden administration recently admitted it would miss its self-imposed goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of American adults by Independence Day. So far, only 66 percent have gotten the jab. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deserve much of...

Dr. Henry Miller, physician, molecular biologist, and senior fellow with PRI, talks to the Lars Larson Show about the new Alzheimer drug approved by the FDA. Dr. Miller gives the history of Alzheimer drug approvals and the controversy around it. Larson and Dr. Miller talk about the approval process used by the FDA, costs, and how additional testing for the drug would work. Dr. Miller's segment begins at the 47-minute mark.  Lars Larson National Podcast · Lars Larson National Podcast 06-08-21...

On April 13th, citing "an abundance of caution," after the appearance of a few rare blood clots in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST) following administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA announced a "pause" in its administration. Regulators reversed course just ten days later, after confirming that the incidence of that adverse reaction was, indeed, extremely low, and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine overwhelmingly outweighed the risks. The decision to pause was precipitated...

This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced bills that could preserve access to telehealth for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries beyond the pandemic. The House measure would allow Medicare beneficiaries to continue receiving “audio-only” remote care — that is, by phone. The Senate bill would direct the federal government to come up with a list of telehealth services that state Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program should cover. This sustained enthusiasm for telehealth is great for patients. State and federal officials relaxed...

How the New Price Transparency Rules are Affecting Stakeholders May 13, 2021 Deborah Abrams Kaplan Although the hospital price transparency final rule took effect in January, it will take time for it to get its sea legs, whether that means 100% hospital compliance, inspiring patients to use it for their own healthcare decisions or for hospitals to reevaluate their pricing based on their competition. Eventually, though, “I think it will open up the market and, hopefully, reduce the cost of healthcare,” says Sally...

The U.S. House of Representatives is once again considering “The Lower Drug Costs Now Act”. It was a bad idea in the last Congress, and it is still bad policy today. If it becomes law, this Act (H.R. 3) empowers the federal government to negotiate prices on select drugs for the entire country. By statute, the government will base the negotiations on the prices charged in other nations. Since these nations impose stringent price controls on drugs, H.R. 3 is a...

Despite the constant stream of dour news about drug prices, actions by employer-sponsored plans are providing reasons for hope. Instead of accepting the high-cost of originator biologics, companies as diverse as Disney, Costco, and CalPERS are “asserting their own desire to see biosimilars implemented among their employees.” Capturing these savings during the pandemic only increases their importance. Biologic medicines are high valued drugs that have meaningfully improved patient health, particularly for people living with cancer and auto-immune diseases. These medicines are also...

As the Biden administration engages the COVID-19 pandemic, a public tug-of-war has emerged over who should be nominated to run the Food and Drug Administration, a pivotal participant in the effort. An analysis of the two perceived front-runners illustrates that neither would likely introduce the kinds of reform needed at the agency. One candidate is acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, a long-serving top FDA official with widespread institutional respect, both inside and outside the agency. To her (far) left is Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, who served briefly as...

Patent trolls have been a plague on innovators for too long. Patent trolls are entities that obtain patents (sometimes obscure patents) for the sole purpose of threatening or filing lawsuits in court and then using the prospect of costly litigation to extort unwarranted payouts from an innovative company. The risks and costs created by these entities are a clear and present danger to entrepreneurship and innovation. A goal of public policy should be to make it more costly for frivolous patent...

Throughout history, humans have continuously genetically modified, or improved, microorganisms, animals and crop plants through selection and breeding, to enhance their desirable characteristics. Sometimes, the modification of traits has been so drastic that the new varieties have been designated new species, as in those derived from the versatile Brassica oleracea, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi. To accomplish desired changes in phenotype (the traits of an organism resulting from the interaction of the genotype and the environment), scientists have...

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released new data on Dec. 16 on health expenditures. In 2019, overall spending rose 4.6% to reach a total of $3.8 trillion, or 17.7% of the economy. That's enough to make anyone do a double take. But a deeper look at the data actually shows we're getting a lot of value out of all that spending. Hospital care and physician and clinical services accounted for over 50% of spending. Spending in those two categories grew at a slightly faster...

By Henry Miller, M.S., M.D. and Andrew Fillat Profit motive and patent protection are the very keys to innovation. Without them, millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed in record time would most certainly not be en route to hospitals and providers in all 50 states as we write. Still, some just will not accept this reality. If we were writing this article for a medical journal, we would begin by saying that we were identifying a previously undescribed and destructive outbreak...

By Henry Miller, Shiv Sharma Much of the progress in medicine during the past half-century has involved expensive, high-tech diagnostic tests and therapies.  The trend in this direction worries health economists and politicians because it has the potential to send already-high healthcare costs into the stratosphere. However, in both medicine and dentistry, there is an important role as well for ingenious, low-tech, less expensive approaches to improved health and increased longevity. The FDA last year approved a high-tech gene therapy drug, Zolgensma, for a...

By Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D. and John J. Cohrssen The United States is one of the most seriously COVID-19-impacted countries, faring the worst among the ten most-affected countries worldwide, as measured by new cases. The pandemic threatens both American lives and the economy. Even more worrisome, as shown below in this figure, the situation is deteriorating. Two things about those trends are especially problematic: first, deaths are a lagging indicator, following chronologically behind cases and hospitalizations, so the death curve will continue upwards; and...

President Trump’s COVID-19 recovery has thrust into the spotlight the possibilities of novel, experimental therapies for this potentially deadly disease.  During his stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he was treated with at least three drugs that have since received substantial attention in the media: the anti-viral remdesivir, the glucocorticoid steroid dexamethasone, and the monoclonal antibody cocktail REGN-COV2. While evidence suggests these drugs may be effective (and remdesivir just received full marketing approval from the FDA), there are other potential game-changers...

Title: Big Pharma Backs Joe Biden, But People Don't Think He'll Fix Drug Pricing By Darragh Roche Former Vice President Joe Biden is winning the race for donations from Big Pharma but experts and industry stakeholders doubt his plans will successfully lower drug prices or address underlying issues in the industry. The pharmaceuticals and health products industry has donated more than $5.9 million to Biden's presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, a site run by the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations....

Politicians continue perpetuating the myth that drug price controls are the necessary cure for the country’s healthcare affordability problems. Whether it is Speaker Pelosi’s “The Lower Drug Costs Now Act”, or President Trump’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) and Drug Importation Executive Orders, these policies are destined to fail. Undoubtedly, there are problems with the drug pricing system that harms patients, and reforms that fix these problems are urgently needed. But, adopting the ill-fated price controls that are implemented in other industrialized countries will create new...

The newest tool to fight coronavirus could be coming soon to your neighborhood retailer. This month, Walgreens announced it will partner with Village MD to open primary care clinics in 500 to 700 stores over the next five years. The drug chain is joining the likes of Walmart, CVS and Amazon to bring retail health clinics to the masses. By increasing the supply of care available to consumers, these new clinics will help lead to lower prices throughout the rest of the...

Accompanying the pandemic of Covid-19 infections is also an “infodemic” of inaccurate, sometimes dangerous misinformation. Based on some of the claims by people who downplay or doubt the severity of the pandemic, it might be reasonable to conclude that the outbreak is no worse influenza in a bad year. Some even maintain that Covid-19 is less a concern than flu, and cite the pandemics of 1917-1918 and 1968 as evidence. Central to these opinions is a perceived overall low death rate, especially...