Spending Soars on Drug Ads
Pharmaceutical companies have increased the money they spend on advertising by 62 percent since 2012, surpassing $6 billion last year, according to a Kaiser Health News article. The enormous growth in drug advertising has generated new controversy, Kaiser reports, noting that the American Medical Association in 2015 called for an outright ban because “direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.” Most of the ad money is spent on TV, frequently on programs that attract older viewers. KHN cites a Kantar study showing that “72 percent of commercial breaks on the "CBS Evening News" have at least one pharmaceutical advertisement.”
Apple’s Health Plans are Coming Together
As the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs grew sicker, he came to realize how poor many health care processes were, especially when it came to his company’s bread and butter — user experience, Fast Company reports. Apple has been quietly making big investments into health care, which has resulted in big gains in three areas: hospital care, at-home care and medical research, according to the report. The tech giant’s approach in partnering with electronic health record companies like Epic Systems and mobile app developers has led to many hospitals, including Cedars-Sinai, embracing Apple’s operating system, iOS, to allow hospitalized patients access to such things as medical charts on iPads. Another key factor in Apple's growing success is its reassurance of privacy and security to IT buyers. Si Luo, president and CEO of PatientSafe Solutions, which partners with Apple, said to FastCompany, “Apple now feels like the safest choice.” It appears Apple's investment into health care is beginning to pay off.
A Safety Net for U.S. Blood Supply
America’s system for supplying blood to hospitals and health centers is effective and efficient, but a Rand study warns of serious pressures that need to be addressed now to ensure that it remains that way. An article in the March-April issue of the Rand Review points out that improved surgical techniques and other hospital procedures have reduced the demand for blood. Growing competition among suppliers and the cost of collecting, testing and delivering blood are another pressure. The researchers suggest that the federal government could create “a safety net for the nation’s blood supply.” One tactic: Invest in new disease tests and technologies that make the blood supply safer. Another: Set guidelines for how much blood the system would need in case of a sudden surge in demand, and then help to underwrite the process to reach that level.
Pediatric Exposure to Opioids
In the ongoing battle against the opioid epidemic, a recent study found that poison control centers across the country field 32 calls a day from families with children who have been exposed to opioids, Science Daily reports. The study, published in Pediatrics, looked at pediatric exposure to opioids from January 2000 through December 2015 and found an average of one call every 45 minutes. Although the number and rate of exposure to most opioids has been decreasing since 2009, the number remains high. “As physicians, we need to find a balance between making sure that we are helping our patients manage their pain, and making sure we don’t prescribe more or stronger medication than they need,” said Gary Smith, M.D., senior author of the study.