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Must reads

  • Marcia Angell, The Truth About the Drug Companies (review)
  • Arnold Kling, Crisis of Abundance (one of the better primers of health care economics, whether you agree or disagree with his solutions)
  • (Watch) - (PBS Frontline - Dangerous Prescription)
  • Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors - For the way sexual statistics are repressed if they do not conform to legislators worldview.
  • Michael Perelman "Steal this Idea: the corporate confiscation of creativity" has extensive coverage of health issues, with examples of life saving treatments being suppressed, researchers whose work reached the "wrong" conclusions had their papers 'edited' or suppressed, and how some valuable drugs don't make it because they can't be patented. Also, how important valuable work at the NIH gets handed to Big Pharma, who profit handsomely from this corporate welfare. This book also covers other issues, and could be listed in some of the other sections as well.
  • Uffe Ravnskov, "The Cholesterol Myths" (review)

Source(s): Medicine

Please research

  • A Medical Researcher Pays for Doubting Industry Claim: reposting of WSJ article and other documents relating to the case of Dr. Erdem Cantekin of the University of Pittsburgh
  • Drug companies influence on GPs, psychiatrists, etc. Should patients be asking their doctors out to dinner too?
  • Patent extension by patenting a trivial variation on a medicine (such as extracting its more potent isomer), then trying to influence doctors to switch to the variant.
  • Media reports of health stories: can they be trusted to be impartial when dependent on advertising. For example: Forbes article ( with headline "Mom's antidepressent use poses little danger to baby" contradicts article which says antidepressants increase risk of some defects four-fold. (Must be countless better examples).
  • Why do we focus on curing a problem rather than preventing it? (i.e. cancer's 'Race For the Cure™' versus better carcinogen regulation)

Source(s): Medicine

Corruption in action

Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona alleges political influence was brought to bear upon him to prevent him speaking out on subjects of political concern to the Bush Administration.

Susan F. Wood, assistant FDA commissioner for women's health and director of the Office of Women's Health resigns over political influence in preventing OTC release of the "morning after pill". She says, "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled,"

  • My local GPs use adware to maintain patient records. Fairly minor, but why do they consider it acceptable? How common is this?
    • All information shared must comply with HIPAA regulations. While it is very unlikely that the information collected by an adware company complies with HIPAA, asking before accusing enhances your credibility.
  • Congressman Billy Tauzin was chairman of the House committee overseeing pharmaceutical companies. After pushing through a bill benefiting the industry, he left Congress to become president and CEO of PHRMA, the industry's top lobbying group.
  • There is apparently a controversy within the American Psychological Association, as members with alleged "direct ties" to the military prepared a code of ethics section permitting psychologists to participate in military interrogations. The AMA apparently does not permit its members to do so. story
  • Institutionalized corruption among some ethically challenged Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which receive an extraordinary reimbursement rate, way above what MediCare or the private insurance carriers pay. This extra reimbursement is designed to compensate the clinic for providing care to patients with no coverage. This model does in fact work quite well at a lot of FQHCs. But FQHCs fall into two types: corporate vs. mission based health centers. The "mission based" health centers work quite hard at providing medical services to the underserved. The "corporate" FQHCs work harder at gaming the reimbursement system than at delivering care. Savvy CFOs game the reimbursement system by exploiting a loophole in the reimbursement rate calculation that allows the rate to grow faster than annual increases in the cost of delivering care. In impoverished rural areas, a fiscally agressive corporate FQHC can significantly distort the local health care business market. This form of corruption is rarely confronted because it an agile advocate for the corporate FQHC will play the "we give away services to poor people" card.
  • Special interests can enforce their will on inconvenient doctors by corruptly influencing medical review boards to go after these doctors and give disproportionate punishments, removing them as credible opponents. The practice is called sham peer review.
  • The entire health care non-system suffers from paying for procedures rather than outcomes which corrupts it all. See "Health Care Reform Now" by George Halvorson, the CEO of Kaiser Premanente.

Source(s): Medicine