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lotsapills-300x200Consumers have gotten eyebrow-raising views of Big Pharma’s ugly business practices and the tough and sometimes sketchy efforts to rein in the industry’s ravenous pursuit of profits — in settling claims over distributors inundating the country with lethal painkillers, or with a maker’s behind-the-scenes campaign to win U.S. approval of an Alzheimer’s medication based on dubious data.

Patients are unlikely to come out ahead, or even satisfied with the outcomes of the cases involving how Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson handled opioids, and how Biogen and the Food and Drug Administration have dealt with Aduhelm.

A major opioids settlement

covidhotspotsjuly242021mayo-300x219As coronavirus cases surge, hospitalizations rise, and deaths tick up — mostly among the unvaccinated — the national conversation has returned to familiar controversies over public health measures like getting people shots and getting them to cover their faces again.

But with the Delta variant tearing mostly through those who haven’t gotten shots, a new twist also has emerged. Could the latest trend by dubbed, “enough is enough?” Patience with the resistant and reluctant — a little under half the U.S. population — may be running out.

The largest hospital association in the country told its members that it is past time to require health workers to get vaccinated. These valuable individuals already work under mandates for other inoculations and the latest coronavirus surge, which could result in spiking deaths in the fall, is cause enough for a vaccination mandate, the group said.

davincirobot-300x176Hospitals finally are saying bull feathers to the leading maker of surgical robots that cost institutions millions of dollars annually to buy and maintain. New lawsuits against Intuitive Surgical dispute the company’s business practices, including the exclusivity it demands for its costly services and products.

But will the civil claims also crack open the door to bigger questions about daVinci robots and other such medical devices and whether they benefit patients or just add backbreaking costs to their hospital bills?

Intuitive has declined to comment on the suits filed against it in federal courts in California by the Franciscan and Kaleida health systems. The company has denied one aspect of the media reports about the suits — that it shut down its robots remotely in the middle of a patient’s operation, forcing a surgeon and his team to improvise and finish the procedure (without problems) using standard techniques.

aidpoor-300x200Cash is king. That truism may hold for thrifty savers and businesses and individuals buffeted by economic uncertainty. But this realistic view also may be turned on its head for poorer, uninsured patients trying to cope with bankrupting medical bills.

That’s because hospitals — a leading driver of health care costs — gouge with their premium prices those who pay with cash, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper, working with previously secret pricing data that institutions across the country must disclose now, has given consumers yet another eye-popping view of the elasticity of hospital charges and how they punish the poor:

aduhelm-300x250The  Food and Drug Administration has back-tracked on a major part of its  accelerated approval of Aduhelm, a prescription medication targeted at Alzheimer’s patients.

The  FDA green light for the drug also has created such consternation among medical specialists, insurers, policy experts, and politicians — including with news reports of hidden, cozy dealings between a top regulator and the medication’s maker —  that the acting agency chief has asked the independent inspector general to investigate what happened.

The fury over Aduhelm is occurring even as another drug maker is pushing legal action that authorities argue also could saddle taxpayers with other soaring costs for other expensive drugs.

fourthfireworks-300x257Hoorah, the spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display will return to the National Mall — and with a throng expected to watch in person.

Here’s hoping the celebratory pyrotechnics in Washington, D.C., also will be confined to this and other public displays — and not creating mayhem for the next few weeks in neighborhoods across the region and the country, too.

C’mon, scofflaws with fireworks: The country’s return to normality isn’t license to harm yourself and others, keep the law-abiding up at all hours with firecracker explosions, and to terrify humanity’s four-footed pals for no good reason.

covidvaxing62521chart-300x144The coronavirus—  little more than submicroscopic flecks of genetic material encased in protein and  barely a life form — is proving still to be a relentless, lethal bane of humanity.

While experts say the coronavirus vaccines may have highly rare side effects affecting the hearts of young recipients (who also respond well to quick treatment), the shots have helped to quell the pandemic, slashing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent days.

That is occurring among the vaccinated, of course. For the unvaccinated, however, the global health menace is far from over, especially because the nasty coronavirus has mutated and its “delta” variant, first detected in India, is proving nastier still.

cdcjune19statevaxmap-157x300The Biden Administration may fall short of its goal of getting 70% of adults in the nation vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 4th, a campaign for which officials are pushing hard still in hopes of quelling the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people in this country.

All signs continue to point to this summer as a major turning point in months of the virus’ toll. New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the country have fallen to lows not seen since the earliest days of the pandemic.

The vaccination effort that the administration has hammered on since the beginning of the year has gotten at least one dose in the arms of 176 million Americans as of June 18: 65.1% of adults and 82% of those 65 and older have gotten their shots.

scotusbldg-300x193It’s three strikes now from the U.S. Supreme Court: Have Republicans finally gotten themselves thrown out of their game to strip tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance?

The conservative-packed high court, in a 7-2 vote, rejected the latest and third GOP attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans in Congress also have failed to kill in more than five dozen votes over more than a decade.

The case decided by the justices — supported by the Trump Administration and brought by attorneys general in Republican-controlled states like Texas and opposed by their counterparts in Democratic-controlled states — proved to be the legal equivalent of a belly flop.

aduhelm-150x150The federal Food and Drug Administration has created an instant medical and regulatory morass by giving an accelerated approval to Biogen’s costly prescription medication targeted at patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

This is the first drug to win the precious official nod from the FDA in almost two decades.

But the agency’s OK to market aducanumab (pronounced “add-yoo-CAN-yoo-mab”), which will go by the brand name Aduhelm, may go in the books as one of the sketchiest and most ferociously contested in recent times. The drug somehow overcame Everest-sized reasons why, at best, it needed further study — which it is supposed to get. And it faces Himalayan-sized criticisms that it will raise false hopes for those afflicted with a condition that is spiking in a fast-graying nation, and for which no effective medical remedy has been found.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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