Best Selling Author Gerald Posner Discusses ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and Poisoning of America’

Gerald Posner on the podcast this week.
Gerald Posner latest work is “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” This book describes something we here are all very interest in which is the history of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

In a special edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast best-selling author and investigative journalist Gerald Posner discusses the sordid history of the drug business from his most recent work, ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America.’ It reads like a ‘true crime’ novel, though everything in the volume is true. ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America’ is available at Amazon, just click here: ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America.’

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeartRadio, LibSyn, Spotify, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site. In the book and podcast Posner tells a compelling story that links the history of the pharmaceutical industry from the mid-19th century to the twenty first. It is not a flattering narrative. Many of the practices that were incorporated into marketing and selling heroin and cocaine in the early 20th century were and are still used today. And like they did before, the same companies are deliberately downplaying of the risk of modern-day medicines like opioids that have led to addiction and death for so many Americans.

Interests Intersect

Mr. Posner’s work and the interests of the Houston Healthcare Initiative coincide in several important ways. “The reform of the entire healthcare industry including the pharmaceutical business is our mission,” said Dr. Steven Goldstein who founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative. “We were very flattered he took time to talk with us and the audience about this important topic and we hope that everyone who reads his new book is inspired to act.”

Profits, Then Everything Else

Marketing, sales, advertising and abuse of patent law are all used against the American public to boost sales and stock prices of drug companies. This is part of the historic heritage that links the business’ past to today. “Only by knowing its history,” Mr. Posner writes, “is it possible to fully appreciate how the battle between noble ambitions and greed is a permanent conflict.” Mr. Posner tells many stories about the people behind the industry and the some of the ethically questionable things they did and still do.

Meet the Sacklers

The mindset of these and other actors id’ed in the book can be better understood with one of many informative stories Mr. Posner relates. According to Mr. Posner, eight people in a single family ‘made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic.’ The family in question is the Sacklers, notably Arthur, who “had some clever ideas of how to disguise product promotions as ‘news’ covered in consumer press.” According to media experts, the ad made to look like news or ‘advertorial’ is a really low rung on either the paid ad or public relations ladder.

Nazis? Really?

Mr. Posner detailed this during his interview on the podcast. “In 1947, defense attorneys for Nazi doctors charged with war crimes for human experimentation at concentration camps cited the malaria experiments in a failed effort for an acquittal. He went on, “when Nazi doctors are citing clinical trials from your industry as grounds for an acquittal in their own legal trials, you have erred.”

To learn more about Gerald Posner visit his web site at https://www.posner.com/.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

 

 

 

Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America

Gerald Posner on the podcast this week.

On this special edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast, author Gerald Posner discusses the history of the pharmaceutical industry and his new book “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” This book describes the history of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and how we and they got to the place we are now.

Among many shocking facts included are that many of the practices that were incorporated into marketing and selling heroin and cocaine in the early 20th century are still used today. And like before, those same companies are deliberately downplaying of the risk of modern-day medicines like opioids. Refer to www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org and www.posner.com. Be sure to read “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.”

Possible Remedy for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Global Pandemic Invites Immediate Controversy

Blood Plasma
Possible Remedy for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Global Pandemic Invites Immediate Controversy
Treatment with blood plasma from recovered patients is an accepted practice that goes back to the early 20th century.

Possible Remedy for the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Global Pandemic Invites Immediate Controversy.

On August 23, 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a decision to grant blood plasma treatment for Coronavirus/Covid-19 patients with a fast-track authorization for its emergency use as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The next day, claims about the effectiveness of this treatment were retracted. Subsequent news coverage about this potential treatment did little to clarify blood plasmas’ usefulness or lack thereof. The idea that there could be a political motivation behind the fast track authorization for this potential treatment, other than looking for a useful therapeutic, is troubling.

Who Can Americans Believe?

On his regular ‘Houston Healthcare Initiative’ podcast, respected neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein defines how this decision triggered an outcry from scientists and doctors, who said the decision was not supported by adequate clinical evidence and criticized the FDA for what was perceived as bowing to ‘political pressure’.

Dr. Goldstein also reviews those who believed this approach was worthwhile. Generally, treatment with blood plasma from recovered patients is an accepted practice that goes back to the early 20th century. Many believe the possibility that blood plasma from recovered Coronavirus/Covid-19 patients could help people fight off the virus was worthy of further investigation.

Who is correct? Who should the American public rely on for the best information about treatment for this global health emergency?

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Listen Notes, iHeartRadio, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America. Blood plasma treatment for Covid-19 patients invites controversy.

Blood Plasma Covid Treatment and Pharmaceutical Industry Reform

Blood plasma covid treatment and pharmaceutical industry reform. On August 23, 2020 the Food and Drug Administration’s announced a decision to grant blood plasma treatment for Coronavirus/Covid-19 patients with a  fast-track authorization for its emergency use as a treatment for hospitalized COVID patients. This “emergency use authorization” triggered an outcry from scientists and doctors, who said the decision was not supported by adequate clinical evidence and criticized the FDA for what was perceived as bowing to political pressure.

Should Pharma choose people over profit?
Big Pharma has a big influence on the congress from multi-million dollar lobbying effort.

News coverage about this potential treatment has done little to clarify whether its useful or not. The idea that there could be a motivation behind the fast track authorization for this potential treatment other than looking for a useful therapeutic is troubling. More to the point, who should decide what patients receive in treatment for their illnesses? To help us make sense of how reforms for the pharmaceutical industry could potentially help separate facts from spin and who we should all listen to is respected neurologist, Dr. Steven Goldstein. Click below to listen.

To read more about this issue please click below: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/fda-s-green-light-treating-covid-19-plasma-critics-see-thin-evidence-and-politics.

A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding of Hydroxychloroquine

A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding Hydroxychloroquine

A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding of Hydroxychloroquine. No one can unring a bell. When articles published in the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine published and then retracted an article critical about the possible use of hydroxychloriquine as a treatment for Coronavirus/Covid-19 they may have shown good faith with the retractions but the damage was done. On his regular podcast, Dr. Steven Goldstein discusses how and why the use of an inexpensive drug was widely criticized. An article from Tablet magazine (Hydroxychloroquine: A Morality Tale) describes the issue in detail.

The criticisms were based on the retracted articles, but there was more to it. Political agendas and money both added to the manufactured confusion about a drug that was used to treat malaria, lupus and others without controversy. Dr. Goldstein believes that reforms for government and the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry were never more obvious than in this example. A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding of Hydroxychloroquine.

Why Canadian Drug Prices Are Lower Than US Drug Prices

US & Canadian Drug Prices

What are the reasons prices for prescribed medicine here are far higher than they are in Canada? Is there a good reason or any reason? Add to this the recent federal government action to bring U.S. drug prices close to or on par with their costs in Canada. To make sense of this, please listen to the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast. Listen here to find out Why Canadian Drug Prices Are Lower Than US Drug Prices.

Listen for more here at https://soundcloud.com/you/tracks.

 

What The Court Ruled About Hospital Price Transparency

This week on the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast, Dr. Steven Goldstein takes a deeper dive into a court decision where hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates with insurers starting this coming January 1, 2021. Plus, he will provide more insight into how hospitals decide what and how much to charge us, and man is that a story. It’s all more than a little complex. The podcast is available on all the popular podcast networks including SoundCloud, iHeart, and Spotify among others.

How Are Prices Now Assessed

Hospital prices are not based on the free market. Instead, prices are agreed on via secret agreements between hospitals and insurance companies. The truth is that pricing for medical services as paid by insurance companies are artificially set and not competitive at all. Prices are agreed to in advance by the hospital and the insurance company, not disclosed to the public. “We are led to believe that our insurance providers negotiate on behalf of their policyholders,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience. This is not the case. The court has ruled that this will no longer be permitted, that hospitals will have to reveal these negotiated rates and thus hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates .

Hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.
Hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.The court ruling that upheld a Trump Administration policy that forces hospitals to reveal their prices.

Why Hospitals Object

One reason many hospitals do not list their actual prices is that, according to them, some cases are more complicated than others. “An appendectomy may go smoothly or may be complicated by other factors such as adhesions from a previous surgery that caused scarring,” Dr. Goldstein said. “This may require additional operating room time resulting in a higher cost.  Thus hospitals claim they can only give estimates.”

Alternatively, this could be handled in one of two ways. 1). Publish the price for each procedure at what the hospital perceives as the average price. Then find ways to cut costs so that average cost is lowered resulting in increased profit for the hospital.  2). Alternatively, publish a price for operating room time by the hour that would include all the ancillary charges + publish the range of operating room times for each procedure.

How Prices Are Set Now

With the use of computer technology, hospitals are able to establish a charge for each product or service, no matter how small. “Every aspirin, every blood test, every x-ray, every bandage, every suture has a charge; Dr. Goldstein said. “Some of these charges beg credulity e.g. the $20 aspirin. All these charges are added up to give the total hospital charge. Of course, this doesn’t include multiple physician charges that are separate.” This all resulted in the Trump administration’s order that hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.

But the final charge is the “sticker price”. The insurance companies never pay this price. They have a secret, negotiated price based on the Medicare price for those services.

Why Healthcare Insurance & Hospitals Do Not Want You To Know About Pricing

Medical Price Transparency
Why Healthcare Insurance & Hospitals Do Not Want You To Know About Pricing

Transparency and the need for it in different industries is a word and requirement we hear a lot about. It should not surprise anyone that some insurers and hospital groups are working to block the implementation of federal rules that make hospital pricing transparent. They argue these will confuse consumers and potentially lead to higher costs. But there is good news. According to the New York Times, a federal judge has upheld a Trump administration policy that requires hospitals and health insurers to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers that are typically kept secret.

Most of us have our health insurance provided by our employers and we do not pay as much attention to the price of medical care as we do the cost of other consumer items. But maybe we should pay more attention? The fact that the charges for our visits to the doctor, hospital and pharmacist are mostly paid for by our insurance does not make us any less likely to get both overcharged and underserved. In fact, it is a lack of transparency that makes medical costs so high.

The issue is that patients do not know the actual price of services. The list price is the price charged to patients without insurance. Each Insurance company negotiates a discounted price. Thus there are multiple discounted prices depending on the insurance company plus a different price for Medicare and Medicaid. These prices have traditionally been secret. There is no competition between hospitals based on price. Medicare sets the price standard based on costs. Thus, hospitals are cost plus operations with little incentive to reduce costs.

Learn more by listening to the podcast.

Job Losses Equal Employer Funded Health Insurance Loss

Closed for Coronavirus

Here Are Some Resources

Even with fewer jobs lost in May than anticipated Americans now experience an unemployment rate of 13.3% or 21 million people out of work due to the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic. On top of lost income, loss of employer provided health insurance makes the cost even higher for those who through no fault of their own find themselves in a very challenging situation. On his podcast this week, Dr. Steven Goldstein describes how job losses equal employer funded health insurance loss and some available and often free resources for those who need health insurance. To listen to the podcast go to: Soundcloud, iHeart, Spotify, or iTunes. Or click here to listen:

 

Double Loss; Job and Health Insurance

Most Americans rely on their employers to provide health insurance for them and their families and when those jobs disappear so does the coverage. “It is extremely important that people get some type of coverage when they have lost their health insurance,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “The available things to look into are COBRA, spouse insurance, faith-based cooperatives, enrollment on the insurance exchange (Obama Care), Medicaid and CHIP.”

COBRA Coverage

COBRA allows employees (and their families) who would otherwise lose their group health coverage due to certain life events to continue their same group health coverage. The former employee generally pays the full monthly rate and not the discounted one for their health insurance. Under COBRA, group health plans must also provide covered employees and their families with certain notices explaining their COBRA rights. The revised model notices provide additional information to address COBRA’s interaction with Medicare. The model notices explain that there may be advantages to enrolling in Medicare before, or instead of, electing COBRA.

State Insurance Exchange

While typically only available during certain months of the year, the state insurance exchange can open for those who experience a ‘life changing’ event. One such event is the loss of a job and employer sponsored health insurance. “You can shop for health plans through your state’s insurance marketplace,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But don’t wait around, there are 30 to 60 days to sign up after a qualifying life event before the end of that special enrollment period.”

Spouse Insurance

In households where a spouse’ employer offers health insurance; those benefits may be available. “It is easy enough to find out if a spouse’s job offers health insurance and sign on for that,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Faith Based Health Cooperatives

Faith based plans most often share expenses among members. Each member pays a monthly premium. When one of the members becomes ill or needs treatment for an injury, his or her contributions cover the expenses, in conjunction with the collective input of fellow members. “As such, the premiums are lower in comparison to those of traditional health care,” Dr. Goldstein said. “These operate with exemptions to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care.”

Medicare

Eligibility for Medicare is based on income and the size of family. Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities in all fifty states.  In some states the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level. “But do not assume that you do or do not qualify,” said Dr. Goldstein. “There are online resources available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with state references to help guide you.”

CHIP

CHIP stands for ‘Children’s Health Insurance Program.’ CHIP offers low-cost health coverage for children from birth through age 18. CHIP is designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy private health coverage. This coverage comes through the Medicaid program, which is why they are frequently seen together.

Income Qualification for Medicare

A family of four with an income of $25,750.00 at the poverty level and eligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. For an individual the amount was $12,490.00. The amount goes up by $4,420.00 for each additional family member. “The guidelines change every year,” Goldstein said.

The Good News

There are plenty of alternatives available to individuals and families that can be used short or for the longer term that are not all based on a job with insurance. People under age 26, may even be able to join their parents’ employer-based plan. “There are places to go and affordable resources available,” Dr. Goldstein concluded. “Any type of healthcare insurance or coverage will help protect your finances later.”

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

 

Managing Prescription Medicine Costs

Prescription medicine is expensive, and in some cases unaffordable. The reasons for the high costs of some medicine are talked about by patients, physicians and politicians. But the reasons for high costs matter less than the reality that there are people who could get their medicine for a lot less money if they knew just a few things about how drugs are sourced and priced.  Here today to help us crack this code and hack drug prices is respected Houston based neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op Dr. Steven Goldstein.

Managing Prescription Medicine Costs

Most people have read or heard about how high the price of prescription medicine is here in the U.S. and how relatively inexpensive it is in other countries, especially Canada. What do the Canadians know? According to Dr. Goldstein, prices for drugs in Canada are set by a special review board that compares prices of medicine in Europeto then decide what to charge.  “Here in the U.S. Medicaid does not negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical companies and consequently the prices are higher,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners.