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What Is Maddening about Pharmaceutical Prices?

Imagine that you are gasping for breath, literally on the verge of death. Then someone injects you with a medicine and – miracle! – you are perfectly healthy again.

Would you pay $300 for that injection?

The treatment is epinephrine; your illness was a life-threatening allergy. And that $300 price? That reflects a six-fold increase from a couple years ago. It’s one thing for medications to be expensive. But why does the same medication become more expensive over time?!?

Americans are justifiably angry about rising prices for drugs that have been on the market for years.

Many medications come to market at high prices, in part because it is expensive to identify, develop, and test new drugs. First, there’s the basic research. Admittedly, much of this work is funded by the federal government, but sometimes pharmaceutical companies pour significant money into such efforts too. Then there’s the cost of clinical trials – often hundreds of millions of dollars to test one drug, with no guarantee that the molecule being tested will work. When the trials go well, companies spend money and time (and remember: time is money!) jumping through regulatory hurdles, marketing their drugs, ramping up production facilities – this all adds up. It shouldn’t be surprising that pharmaceutical companies want to charge high prices for their products.

But what explains the frequent price increases that occur after drugs are already on the market, increases that far exceed the rate of inflation?

(To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

 

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What Are the Biggest Forces Driving Change in the Healthcare Marketplace?

Here is what one group of experts thought:

What are The Biggest Forces Driving Change in the Healthcare Marketplace

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Does a Church Service a Week Keep the Doctor Away?

Religious belief has many health benefits. For some people, religious belief reduces existential angst, the reduction in stress leading to lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system. For others, religious belief gives their lives purpose, that purpose motivating them in ways that improve their health. And of course, sometimes religious belief is associated with attending religious services, an activity that gets people out of the house to interact with supportive communities.

What do all these forms of religious practice mean for health and well-being? People who regularly attend religious services live longer. Here is a picture of that survival benefit, from a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that assessed mortality rates among women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest longitudinal explorations of what affects people’s health and well-being.

(To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

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Best Nudge Ever?

Katie

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A Hazard of Being a Researcher

A Hazard of Being a Researcher

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Behavioral Science of Eating (in One Picture!)

The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (yes, there is such a thing!) had an outstanding issue dedicated to eating behavior recently. Here is a picture from that issue worth sharing:

Behavioral Science Of Eating

 

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America’s Healthcare Price Problem

Want to know why we continue to spend so much more on healthcare than other countries? We have a price problem, one that experts predict will play a huge role in future healthcare spending:

America Healthcare Price Problem

If we want to reign in healthcare spending, we must go after high prices. That means taking on physicians, hospitals, pharma companies, device manufacturers…Any politicians ready to do that?

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How Money Makes Us Behave (The Good and Bad)

Money can undermine our morals.  If you don’t believe me, look what happened to a group of four-through-six-year-olds who were brought in for a simple experiment. Researchers asked them to sort objects from a box. Half sorted coins, and half sorted buttons. Then they were asked to do one more thing–try to find their way through a difficult maze with no pencil marks crossing lines. Here is the maze. See how easily you can make your way through it:

Materials used as the persistence tests: the labyrinth puzzle from Experiment 1

Psychological Science

How do you think playing with money affected people’s persistence on this task?

(To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

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To Promote Children’s Health, We Need to Address Childhood Poverty

Poverty wreaks havoc on children’s lives, stunting their intellectual development and harming their health. Children raised in poverty experience declines in growth and development, becoming susceptible to numerous otherwise preventable illnesses in the process. Tragically, almost 1 in 5 American children live in poverty:

NEJM

NEJM

Republicans and Democrats must agree on the importance of helping American children thrive. They need to focus on bipartisan efforts to address childhood poverty. And when poverty can’t be addressed, they need to find ways to make sure children coming from poor families have affordable access to necessary medical care.

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How Companies Can Save Millions on Healthcare Benefits (without Harming Employees)

The free market is supposed to be efficient. Yet employers are throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars, by not giving their employees intelligently designed healthcare benefits that encourage them to shop for affordable lab tests.

Right now, when your doctor orders a CBC (complete blood count) and a basic chemistry panel (checking your sodium, potassium and other fun chemicals), you probably walk down a hallway and get your blood drawn, or maybe you go to the nearest testing site. A pleasant nurse draws several vials of blood from your arm, and eventually you and your employer get a bill in the mail for the cost of your tests. You probably don’t shop around for prices. Yet those tests might cost $30 at one laboratory and more than $100 at another. Who pays that extra $70? A good chunk of that tab will be picked up by your employer, which ultimately makes it harder for your boss to give you a raise. And some of the cost might be on you, with a copay or a charge to your deductible.

There’s got to be a better way.

(To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)

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