Sorry Facebook, I don’t trust ​you with my health information

KEY POINT: According to Facebook a lot of people join health groups on the social site to share experiences and ask questions. Facebook announced Tuesday that it wants to create a new type of community: health support groups in which people can even ask questions anonymously. Facebook is doing this to get more online digital dollars, but DTC marketers should be careful.

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The pharma pessimist

IN SUMMARY: Peccisism; a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future. When it comes to pharma that pretty much describes me. In my 20+ years in healthcare marketing, I have seen a transformation from an industry focused on patients to an industry focused on profits.

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It’s hard, I mean really hard, to defend big pharma

  • Big Pharma is evading culpability for the crisis of rising prescription drug prices by point the finger at others, namely pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
  • Many drugs receive no rebates at all, including 89 percent of Medicare Part D prescriptions. For new drugs, where the price tag can run into the hundreds of thousands a year, rebates are rarely offered because there is no direct competition in the space.
  • Putting profits before people is what big Pharma does. Brand name drug makers have hiked the prices of their products at 10 times the rate of inflation over the last five years. 
  • Drugmakers historically have blamed higher prices on the costs of research and development but didn’t use and of the $7 billion tax benefit to increase R&D.
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Healthcare cost crisis ignores prevention as a ke​y driver

  • The United States currently spends more than $420 million per hour on healthcare, a number that is increasing by the minute and is expected to top $12 trillion in 2040, according to HealthCostCrisis.org
  • The U.S. currently spends about twice as much as what other high-income nations do on healthcare — more than $3.6 trillion in 2018, according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Despite the higher spending, the U.S. consistently ranks near the bottom on major health indices such as life expectancy and infant mortality.
  • Health spending per person is growing  2X faster than household income driving more than 57 million Americans to cut back household spending to pay for healthcare or medicine.
  • The focus on healthcare spending continues to be cost but very little is said about prevention.
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Apple watch study is moot

  • The Apple Heart Study, conducted by Stanford University researchers and sponsored by Apple, evaluated the ability of the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation, a common heart disorder also known as A-fib, in an astonishing 400,000 participants.
  • The study was not a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of medical research.
  • It’s a purely observational study designed to see whether the Apple Watch’s heart pulse monitor can identify people who have a-fib. 
  • A leading cardiologist told me “the study is really moot and doesn’t change my views on the Apple watch for patients”
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Why pharma companies continue to feel the heat over pricing

  • Pharma continues to be portrayed as the villain in pricing but there are other villains who are escaping scrutiny.
  • The 5 largest conglomerates combining health insurance and pharmacy benefits are on track this year to be bigger than the 5 preeminent tech companies.
  • Half of people in fair to poor health are uninsured or struggle with affordability.
  • Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose five percent to an average $19,616 this year, extending a seven-year run of moderate increases.
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