The idea of “consumer empowered” healthcare is a myth

SUMMARY: From the prices of medications to the choice of doctors and treatments the idea that people are “consumers of healthcare” is a canard. The fact that we don’t have control is one reason why Gallup reported that so many people are unsatisfied with the state of healthcare in the U.S.

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The human cost of high insulin prices

  • The global insulin market is dominated by three companies: Eli Lilly, the French company Sanofi and the Danish firm Novo Nordisk.
  • In the past decade alone, U.S. insulin list prices have tripled, according to an analysis of data from IBM Watson Health
  • According to IBM Watson Health data, Sanofi’s popular insulin brand Lantus was $35 a vial when it was introduced in 2001; it’s now $270. Novo Nordisk’s Novolog was priced at $40 in 2001, and as of July 2018, it’s $289.
  • Stories of people rationing insulin and dying as a result continue to appear in the media.
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The media attempts to bring more heat on big pharma

  • According to JAMA “annual health care marketing surged from $17.7 billion in 1997 to at least $29.9 billion in 2016, driven by a rapid spike in spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements for prescription drugs. Over this period, DTC spending climbed from $2.1 billion to $9.6 billion.
  • The most rapid increase was in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, which increased from $2.1 billion (11.9%) of total spending in 1997 to $9.6 billion (32.0%) of total spending in 2016. DTC prescription drug advertising increased from $1.3 billion (79 000 ads) to $6 billion (4.6 million ads [including 663 000 TV commercials]), with a shift toward advertising high-cost biologics and cancer immunotherapies.
  • Even if all prescription drugs were free healthcare costs would still be increasing.
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Straight talk on drug pricing

  • While there is no excuse for the price increases on some drugs, like insulin other price increases are not aimed at consumers. They are aimed at PBM’s and insurers who are seeing their profits increase at a rapid rate.
  • Americans are among the most unhealthy in the world.
  • Millennials are so overweight, it has them on pace to be part of the most obese generation in history.
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About those drug price hikes…

  • Pharma is starting 2019 with a slew of price hikes, affecting more than 1,000 medications.
  • The average increase amounts to about 6 percent.
  • Price increases do not directly translate to increased profits. Most of the increases are on list price, or wholesale acquisition cost and are lost through a competitive rebating and contracting process with insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and the government, among others.
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Reducing cancer risk by 40%

  • Avoiding bacon and alcohol could help reduce the risk of cancer up to 40%, experts suggested as they unveiled what has been dubbed the “blueprint” to beat the disease.
  • obesity likely to overtake smoking as the “number one risk factor for cancer” within decades.
  • There is now strong evidence excessive weight is the cause of at least 12 cancers, five more than when the last WCRF recommendations were published in 2007.
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