Posts Tagged ‘Health’

On Tuesday, Public Citizen researchers published an article in PLoS Medicine about the safety of various medical devices. The authors of the article found that the FDA approval process does not adequately weed out ineffective and sometimes dangerous devices. From the press release issued Tuesday:

The weaknesses identified by the authors include:
• A lower approval standard for devices than for drugs;
• Lax interpretation of the requirements for the medical device approval process;
• A loophole that allows manufacturers of novel devices to circumvent the premarket approval process;
• Failure of the FDA to appropriately regulate many types of devices that were first marketed prior to the 1976 enactment of the current regulatory scheme; and
• A superfluous appeal mechanism that gives manufacturers a second go for approval after FDA has rejected a device.

The authors enumerated specific cases where FDA allowed dangerous products to be sent to market. In one particularly egregious instance, a device was approved by the FDA director after other FDA board members had expressed significant concerns about the device, the vagus nerve stimulator, which is supposed to treat severe depression. Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid considers the device to be of such questionable value that it refuses to reimburse for it.

In the words of one of the researchers, Dr. Sidney Wolfe,

“The FDA’s mission is to protect public health, but allowing questionably effective products onto the market is inconsistent with that mission.”

The article can be found in the latest issue of PLoS Medicine.


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This morning, Howard Dean spoke to the crowd at Netroots Nation ’09 to address health care reform. Unsurprisingly, Dean’s talk consisted mostly of touting the Democratic “public option” plan for health care and talking points bloggers should repeat to push that compromise plan through Congress.

Now, there are lots of single-payer fans at Netroots. Outside the convention center in Pittsburgh, a number of protesters have been carrying signs promoting John Conyers’ (D-Mich) single-payer bill, HR 676. Inside, many of the bloggers and advocates I’ve spoken with have expressed their preference for single-payer over the Democrats’ proposed half-measures.

So it’s no surprise that when Dean confessed that he thinks single-payer should not have been off the table and that the Democrats’ proposal should have been a single-payer plan, the conference hall lit up with applause.

Of course, should have/could have/would have only goes so far. Single-payer still needs your support. Urge your Congress member to support HR 676 today!

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Remember the report we issued on May 27 that outlined the failures of hospitals to report and discipline poor doctors? Well so do Charlie Gibson and ABC News because they covered our findings last night.

Watch the video here.

Our report found that nearly 50 percent of all hospitals in the United States failed to submit a single report to the National Practitioner Databank since its creation in 1990. The Databank was created to keep track of bad doctors by listing any practitioner who had their admitting privileges revoked or suspended for 31 days or more. That way, a hospital could easily check any doctor’s background before hiring him or her.

But this system has failed the very people it was trying to protect. Hospitals routinely exploit loopholes to avoid government requirements, such as the need to report to the Databank.  (more…)

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by Public Citizen health researcher James Floyd, M.D.

On Tuesday, eight courageous activists stood up to Sen. Max Baucus and demanded that single-payer national health insurance be considered. The confrontation, which drew police to the chamber, occurred during a roundtable discussion on health reform held by the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs. This was one of the few times that single-payer has been covered in the mainstream press, and it’s shameful it took something as dramatic as the arrest of physicians and other activists to make it newsworthy. (more…)

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A few days ago, we told you about Public Citizen’s annual ranking of state medical boards – including a list of the six states with the worst-performing boards: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

When doctors make mistakes, they must be held accountable, which is why we’re urging you to take action and contact the six worst-performing boards.

Simply visit our Web page with a list of the six states, and click on a state to submit a letter to that state’s medical board.

Nothing is more valuable than your health, and state medical boards must serve the public by consistently doling out and enforcing serious disciplinary actions for doctors’ serious violations.

Demand these boards do a better job today!

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The New York Times’ Stephanie Clifford had an interesting piece today about RealAge, an online quiz site that apparently has garnered a fair amount of press from Oprah etc. Public Citizen’s Peter Lurie, deputy director of health research, weighs in by telling the Times how sites like this take advantage of consumers’ health fears:

“Literally millions of people have unknowingly signed up,” said Peter Lurie, M.D., the deputy director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a public interest group in Washington. The company, he said, “can create a group of people, and hit them up and create anxiety even though the person does not have a diagnosis.”


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caduceusNow more than ever, the need for real health care reform is urgent.  For one reason or another, many have compromised their demand for a national single-payer system.  Like President Obama, there’s a kind of collective acquiescence to incremental reform that holds up Massachusetts’ health care system as a model for the nation. 

A report released today by Physicians for a National Health Program  and Public Citizen reveals the failure of the Massachusetts model.  Preserving the private insurance system — which this model does — is not worth the sacrifice of human lives and health. (more…)

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When it comes to your health, you’d probably like to think that physicians meet with drug company representatives strictly to get information that will ensure patients get the most beneficial treatments. You’d like to think that pharmaceutical companies don’t ply doctors with gifts in an attempt to influence their prescription choices. And wouldn’t you like to think that the next time you find yourself at a doctor’s office, the prescription that he or she writes for you will be based solely on what is best for you?

Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

Public Citizen today released new findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that in Vermont, drug companies gave more than $4.9 million in payments to health care providers between July 2002 and July 2004 – far more than the $2.7 million that we uncovered and reported  in JAMA in March 2007. (more…)

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Are you or is someone you know taking codeine to relieve pain? Then some new information in Public Citizen’s Worst Pills, Best Pills June newsletter will be of interest.

It turns out a substantial minority of people using codeine may be at risk of getting inadequate pain relief or experiencing serious side effects because of certain genetic factors and other medications they may be taking.

The reason codeine works as a painkiller is because the body converts it into morphine in the liver using an enzyme called CYP2D6. However, not everyone has the same level of CYP2D6 activity. Some have activity that is higher or lower than normal, which could result in an excessive or inadequate response to codeine. (more…)

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