Can beliefs make you fat? The answer to this question might seem pretty obvious. If I believe that the best way to lose weight is to super-size five meals a day at McDonald’s, while consuming bags of Doritos to tide me over between meals, that belief is probably going to make me fat. If I believe that the best way to get in shape is to watch other people exercise, I’m ...

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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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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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Cholesterol pills are one of the great medical advances I’ve witnessed during my professional career. I am talking specifically about a category of medications called statins, drugs like Lipitor and Pravachol. These drugs have prevented probably hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes. Only one problem with these drugs, however: statins won’t help people who don’t take them. And according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, when ...

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Two problems loom large over the American medical care system. First, we spend outrageous amounts of money on health care, with too many patients receiving too many services at too high a price. Second, our malpractice system is an international embarrassment, with too many health care providers sued by too many patients for too little reason. Many experts have pointed out that these problems are two sides of the same coin. ...

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shutterstock_109449368 It is an oft-recited paradox that Americans like the men or women representing them in Congress while hating Congress as a whole. In fact, respect for Congress is near all-time lows. In what has to be seen as a bad sign for the medical profession, people’s attitudes towards physicians are beginning to look downright Congressional. Most Americans like their doctors, with surveys ...

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India is not, yet, a wealthy country. Nevertheless its people experience many of the same expensive-to-treat illnesses as wealthier populations in the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, the country has made a series of policy decisions designed to lower the cost of medical treatments. For example, until 2005, it offered no -- I repeat, no -- patent protection for pharmaceutical products, thereby spurring the development of its robust and relatively inexpensive generic ...

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shutterstock_145891655 Have you ever eaten a healthy meal, maybe some brown rice and stir-fried veggies, and found yourself ready for another meal just a short while later? Or, more often couldn’t overcome a hankering for a satisfying dessert to top off (and undermine the healthiness of) that meal? As it turns out, this lack of satiety is not merely a function of the ...

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So many foods beckoning us from the grocery store shelves -- but which ones are healthy for us to consume? We could study nutritional facts labels, but that feels as challenging as the math portion of the SAT, with so much numerical information to process. The label tells us how many calories are in the food in question -- how many grams of protein, how many grams of fat, and ...

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Jonathan Gruber went from unknown to infamous in the last few weeks, a result of disparaging comments he made about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and even more disparaging ones he made about the American people. According to Gruber, the Obama administration counted on “the stupidity of the American voter” to pass the bill. In fact, the Obama team’s “lack of transparency” was deliberate, because they believed the law would ...

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