I recently was invited to participate in a research study, looking at the economic impact of a new drug for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection. The new drug, called fidaxomicin, has been available for a few years and has proven efficacy in thousands of patients but is generally very expensive. The study will follow patients after their hospitalization and delve into analyzing the monetary costs associated with the medicine, ...

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I recently completed the buprenorphine waiver training. Buprenorphine, itself a partial opiate, is a medication that can be prescribed to patients who have opiate use disorders (e.g., taking Oxycontins or injecting heroin to get high). A physician must complete an eight-hour training and take an exam to become eligible to prescribe this medication. The physician must then apply for a specific “X license” through the DEA ...

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In the old days, blockbuster drugs were moderately expensive pills taken by hundreds of thousands of patients. Think blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes pills. But today, many blockbusters are designed to target much less common diseases, illnesses like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis or even specific subcategories of cancer. These medications have become blockbusters not through the sheer volume of their sales, but as a result of their staggeringly high ...

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I argue that pharmacist should fill prescriptions even if their own morals do not agree. Pharmacists should not be limiting someone from getting something they may need because they do not agree with it. Pharmacists have no right putting their business (ideology) where it doesn’t belong. Women struggle enough when going to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for birth control or emergency contraceptive, now with the added possibility of not ...

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Do you like to take pills? I don’t. I bet most family physicians would say they have some patients who should be better at taking pills and some who love taking pills too much. For people who don’t like taking pills, what would a trade-off look like? If you were given the option of living X months fewer, but in return you wouldn’t have you doctor twisting your arm to take pills every ...

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Alright, we need to talk. Those of you who follow my blog know that I don’t shy away from controversial topics and that I don’t have a problem speaking my mind. I try to do it in a respectful, informative, and somewhat humorous way. But I saw something this morning that needs to be addressed, and it’s not funny at all. As I was eating breakfast before work, I saw a ...

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It is well accepted among health economics wonks that the lion’s share of pharmaceutical company profits come when these companies hold exclusive rights to their products. Once their blockbuster pills go “generic,” competitors enter the marketplace and profits plummet. Consider captopril, a groundbreaking heart failure medication introduced in the early 80s by Bristol-Myers Squibb under the trade name Capoten. After making a fortune for the company, captopril went generic in 1996. ...

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I’ve written before about various forms of complementary and alternative medicine -- most recently about the use of essential oils for serious medical conditions. I’m planning to dive deeper into that topic in an upcoming post. But before I do, I want to take some time to reframe how we think about alternative therapies. And I want to make it clear from the beginning that doctors don’t get paid for prescribing ...

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shutterstock_226013521 Aaron Carroll, a pediatrician who blogs at the Incidental Economist, had a piece published a few weeks ago in the New York Times concluding that adolescents and college kids would be better off -- given a choice of illicit substances -- opting for marijuana over alcohol.  Of course, he would prefer that his kids chose neither.  But he is a ...

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I learned recently that the antipsychotic Abilify is the biggest selling prescription drug in the U.S.  To be a top seller, a drug has to be expensive and also widely used.  Abilify is both.  It’s the 14th most prescribed brand-name medication, and it retails for about $30 a pill.  Annual sales are over $7 billion, nearly a billion more than the next runner-up. Yes, you read that right: $30 a pill.  A little more ...

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