Articles Posted in Ethics

eisaibiogenlogo-300x110Seniors had reason to let out a whimper of pleasure when the Biden Administration announced that Medicare’s monthly, part B premiums would go down by 3% next year — the first such decline in a decade.

To be sure, the sums that they will save will be small, with most of those covered on the government insurance program next year paying $164.90 a month for Part B and seeing a savings of $5.20. But over the course of 2023, administration officials say, this sum will help seniors recoup what they were charged in 2022 when they were hit one of the largest, single-year Medicare premium increases in recent times.

So, while the head-spinning fiscal mess of Medicare costs may be straightening out a tad, the underlying debacle that caused it all is still festering and ready to cause more prescription drug regulatory fiascoes.

richmondcommtyhospital-300x153Big hospitals and hospital chains that enjoy the financial and reputational benefits of nonprofit or charitable status have taken major fire for maximizing profits while piling on patients’ crushing medical debt and exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable of the injured and sick.

Medical economists, in recent times, have zeroed in on hospitals and their opaque pricing schemes and sky-high costs as important contributors to the ever-rising, nosebleed U.S. spending on health care. Americans pay more on average than any consumers on the planet, while seeing some of the worst outcomes among peers in advanced nations. And with a third of U.S. health care spending flowing into hospitals — more than $1 trillion annually — shouldn’t the suits running institutions and big chains have expected greater scrutiny of their business practices?

Kudos to the nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service and NPR for showing how hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are thriving — by saddling patients in that metropolis with some of the heaviest per capita medical debt to be found anywhere in the country.

ozempicpen-300x129Troubling but perhaps predictable news is traveling from a vanity trend-setting capital of this country: Hollywood stars have made the taking of a relatively new prescription drug, targeted for the treatment of diabetes, into a fad.

The injectable drug semaglutide, whose brand name is Ozempic, has become a must-have among A-listers because of one of its important outcomes among most users: dramatic weight loss. As Variety, one of the entertainment industry’s leading trade-media sources, reported about Ozempic:

“The drug is an insulin regulator for the pre-diabetic, made by the Danish pharma juggernaut Novo Nordisk, whose primary side effect is dramatic weight loss. It has saturated the industry in recent months, helping the beautiful and wealthy shed extra pounds in the never-ending Los Angeles pastime of optimizing appearances. Hollywood nutritionist Matt Mahowald tells Variety that the chief benefits of the injections are ‘moderating and pulling back insulin secretion and slowing down your stomach from emptying. It promotes satiation from food.’

jJlogo-300x139Federal appeals judges have expressed skepticism about the scheming by Big Pharma and other big corporations to twist U.S. bankruptcy laws to let wealthy, powerful defendants shield themselves from major claims of harms filed by plaintiffs seeking justice in civil courts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia has been asked to rule on the “Texas two-step” that Johnson & Johnson resorted to when hit with an avalanche of lawsuits over its legendary baby powder and claims by tens of thousands of patients who assert that asbestos-tainted talc contributed to or caused their cancer, NPR reported, noting:

“An attorney for Johnson and Johnson faced probing questions … over the corporation’s use of a controversial bankruptcy maneuver that has frozen tens of thousands of lawsuits linked to Johnson’s baby powder. During the hearing, members of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia asked whether J&J had used the legal strategy to gain ‘a litigation advantage’ over roughly 40,000 cancer patients who have sued the company.”

We’re barraged by so much health hokum that it’s a relief when common-sense reminders come along about crucial wellness concerns like exercise, diet, and sleep.

Timely information on these issues has been reported by the Washington Post (here on movement myths and here on sleep and weight), the Athletic on a soccer nutritionist’s insights on healthful eating, and the New York Times on exercise and bodily immunity.

Some of the key takeaways:

FDA-Logo-300x167Members of Congress, as usual, are racing to meet a deadline: This time, to determine the funding for the federal Food and Drug Administration, an agency with some of the most consequential responsibilities affecting Americans’ health.

In their furious political and financial machinations, though, lawmakers aren’t asking the tough, critical question about the FDA’s leading revenue source:

Is it a good idea for Big Pharma and medical device makers to pay most of the cost to run the nation’s watchdog of these giant, wealthy industries?

minnnursesstrike-150x150The coronavirus pandemic has not only caused sustained damage to the U.S. health workforce, it also apparently has accelerated a looming crisis in nursing care, as has been shown by a three-day strike by 15,000 private-sector nurses in Minnesota.

Theirs was the largest such walkout by nurses and it sought to underscore how pay inequities, staffing shortages, exhaustion, working conditions, and other management-employee issues strike at the heart of the quality, safety, and excellence of direct patient care, the Washington Post and other media outlets reported.

As Kelly Kelley Anaas, an intensive care unit nurse for 14 years at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, told USA Today of the strains confronted by some of medicine’s most crucial frontline caregivers:

Abbottlogo-300x77Big Pharma loves to blast away at opposition lawyers and their clients, criticizing them for seeking justice in the civil system over claims of significant harms. But, c’mon, man, as a certain top political leader likes to say to express his flabbergasted skepticism.

Wealthy corporations and their counsel marshal enormous, costly legal resources to bully, intimidate, and just bury in paperwork plaintiffs in civil cases, as the New York Times has reported. The newspaper has detailed how this almost standard operating procedure by huge law firms has complicated the nation’s effort to safeguard a critical foodstuff for the tiniest, most vulnerable among us — infants needing formula, especially specialized varieties.

The ferocious tactics by formula makers, notably the purportedly family friendly pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, has shielded the industry and the company well but to the detriment of consumers learning important information about a widely used product that was the subject of many lawsuits but that stayed out of the spotlight for years, the newspaper reported:

catholicmedicalcenter-300x123He cut a dashing figure in ads and billboards for a New England community hospital, which had an administration desperate for a lucrative heart care program in a region  with famous academic medical centers. Dr. Yvon Baribeau, a Canadian-trained heart surgeon, seemed a perfect fit for the Catholic Medical Center, a place where he told colleagues he practically lived because he became one of the institution’s best-paid and busiest specialists.

He earned more than $1 million annually, and just one of his many operations brought in $200,000 to CMS before Baribeau suddenly retired at age 63.

What patients and the public didn’t know about the much-promoted surgeon was his shocking mistreatment of patients in a variety of ways, a notoriously poor medical performance that the Boston Globe has reported made him the holder of “one of the worst surgical malpractice records among all physicians in the United States.”

PrEP-pills-150x150While increasing numbers of Americans tell pollsters that they are forgoing religion and seeing its practice diminish in importance in their lives, those with religious fervor are finding a federal judiciary willing to delve into the complexity of faith and medicine in deeply polarizing ways.

The looming midterm elections, pollsters say, already have been upended by the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of a half-century of settled law in turning back to the states critical decisions about women’s reproductive health and the allowance of abortions, including in cases involving rape and incest.

A federal judge in Texas with demonstrated extreme views has further stoked the increasing fires over religion and health care by ruling unconstitutional the process by which Obamacare decides what kinds of preventive health care must be covered by private health insurance, as the New York Times and other media outlets have reported.

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