Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Off-Label Promotion Analyzed, Fixes Involve Docs

From the April 6 2011 MedPage Today article

By Cole Petrochko, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Healthcare professionals are the best defense against illegal off-label*** marketing of drugs, researchers found.

“Our findings suggest that no regulatory strategy will be complete and effective without physicians themselves serving as a bulwark against off-label promotion,” Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, MPH, of Harvard, and colleagues wrote in the April issue of PLoS Medicine.

Despite regulations against off-label marketing, the practice appears to have fluorished in the last several years, the researchers noted. To get a better understanding of the problem, they analyzed whistleblower-initiated legal complaints filed in off-label marketing cases over the last 15 years….

Prescriber-related practice complaints included:

  • Encouraging healthcare professionals to prescribe for off-label use through false or unbalanced study data (76% of all prescriber-related practice complaints)
  • Distributing free samples as a convenient source of off-label promotion (20%)
  • Providing “lavish gifts” or honoraria to healthcare professionals (85%)
  • Creating CME activity with speakers known to promote off-label use or through shell corporations (54%)

Payer-related practice complaints included:

  • Discussions with prescribers to ensure insurance reimbursement for off-label prescriptions (78% of all payer-related practice complaints)
  • Discussions with payers to ensure insurance reimbursement for off-label prescriptions (35%)
  • Advice on ways to bypass an insurer’s restrictions on a drug’s prescription (53%)
  • Falsification of billing codes (48%)

 

***Off-label use: In the United States, the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permit physicians to prescribe approved medications for other than their intended indications. This practice is known as off-label use [MedicineNet.com definition]

 

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

The Health Halo Effect: Don’t Judge A Food By Its Organic Label

Official seal of the National Organic Program

Image via Wikipedia

From the April 11 2011 Medical News Today article

Jenny Wan-chen Lee, a graduate student in Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, has been fascinated with a phenomenon known as “the halo effect” for some time. Psychologists have long recognized that how we perceive a particular trait of a person can be influenced by how we perceive other traits of the same individual. In other words, the fact that a person has a positive attribute can radiate a “halo”, resulting in the perception that other characteristics associated with that person are also positive. An example of this would be judging an attractive person as intelligent, just because he or she is good-looking.

A growing literature suggests that the halo effect may also apply to foods, and ultimately influence what and how much we eat. For instance, research has shown that people tend to consume more calories at fast-food restaurants claiming to serve “healthier” foods, compared to the amount they eat at a typical burger-and-fry joint. The reasoning is that when people perceive a food to be more nutritious, they tend to let their guard down when it comes to being careful about counting calories – ultimately leading them to overeat or feel entitled to indulge. This health halo effect also seems to apply to certain foods considered by many to be especially healthy, such as organic products. Specifically, some people mistakenly assume that these foods are more nutritious just because they carry an “organic” label – an area of longstanding active debate among food and nutrition scientists. …

…As part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, results from this [halo effect ]study were presented on April 10 at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting.

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

HHS Announces Plan To Reduce Health Disparities

HHS Plan Cover

From the April 11 2011 Medical News Today article

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched two strategic plans aimed at reducing health disparities.

The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities outlines goals and actions HHS will take to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.

HHS also released the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity, a common set of goals and objectives for public and private sector initiatives and partnerships to help racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved groups reach their full health potential. The strategy, a product of the National Partnership for Action (NPA), incorporates ideas, suggestions and comments from thousands of individuals and organizations across the country. The NPA was coordinated by the HHS Office of Minority Health.

 

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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