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Healthcare Update – 01-06-2016

Study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that by consuming less sugar, our tastes change. Study participants who replaced 40% of simple sugars in their diet with fats/protein/complex carbohydrates rated foods 40% sweeter than control subjects who made no changes. The study suggests that, just as with so many other body processes, our bodies become tolerant of certain stimuli and we need more of the stimuli to obtain the same effect. In other words, we may be able to decrease our sugar cravings simply by avoiding sugar for a couple of months. Note how in the study, there was no difference between groups at the first month. The effects in the study took two months to become apparent and became even more pronounced at three months. Unfortunately, most people who diet don’t hold out for three months.
Related article in Time Magazine.

UK closing more hospitals to save money. Government stripping resources from emergency departments so that patients needing surgery have to be transported more than 40 miles away. Described as a “surreal situation – like a Wild West film set, with the fronts of the buildings in Main Street but nothing behind the facade.” The correct term is “Potemkin Village“. But at least the care is free – right? Added bonus: This is the system that our government is moving toward.

Irish patient waits for 20 months to have surgery for correction of severe scoliosis then has surgery canceled at last minute because hospital had too many admissions the day before. But don’t worry, folks. She has insurance!

Should patients who overdose on opioid pain medications receive future prescriptions for opioids? This study suggests that discontinuing opioids after an overdose results in a lower risk of repeated overdose. In a related article, the authors are “highly concerned” that 91% of patients in pain would continue to receive pain medications after an overdose. If doctors prescribe opiate pain medications after an overdose, we’re playing with patients’ lives. If we don’t prescribe opiate pain medications after an overdose, we’re heartless bastards who let patients suffer in pain. Either way, we get negative publicity. Another drive-by medical article.

And you thought that the guy Martin Shkreli was a dick for hiking up the price on Daraprim. Wonder whether other pharma CEOs are going to get investigated for similar actions: Potentially life-saving drug Sovaldi that cures Hepatitis C costs $1000 per pill in the United States, but only costs $4 per pill in India. According to the article, drug companies gouge US citizens on prices of many medications. Advair is $150/month in the US, $10/month in India. Crestor is $86/month in the US and $3.60/month in India. Many cancer drugs cost several thousand dollars more per month in the US than they do in other countries. I know, I know. Shkreli was arrested on securities fraud, not for hiking the price of a potentially life-saving unique medication … like Sovaldi.


  1. My spouse always says to follow the money. I do find it despicable that the prices are not equal all the way around. It’s the same for a state University system. Why are the residency requirements different for each one and why does the exact same U, different campus not charge the same tuition and fees? Follow the money and the bullshit.

  2. The price for a year’s supply of Restasis is around $6000/year in the U.S. The same manufacturer and same packaging in Canada is available for around $1200/year. Now that I’m paying out of pocket, I’ll be taking a drive up to Canada once a quarter to fill my prescription. I might even try buying an eye-dropper bottle of 0.05% cyclosporine for $30 (that form of packaging is not available in the U.S., I need to investigate more).

    The real kicker is I had no idea how expensive Restasis was; it was a Tier 3 drug on my insurance, so cost me $100/quarter. It wasn’t until I retired and looked at paying out of pocket that I even knew how much was being charged.

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