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Daily Rounds: Supreme Court Prediction; Drug Spending Levels; Contraceptive Penis Injections; Dartmouth's Dr. Seuss

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'Embarrass the Future?' (The New York Times) - All as tantalizing as it is unknowable from the outside. The larger point – the relevance to the health care case – is that there are obviously tensions and even rifts within the Supreme Court that don’t map readily onto the one-dimensional 5-to-4 narrative. While I expect the statute to survive, I also have two other predictions. One is that however the case comes out, the chief justice will be in the majority and will write the controlling opinion. I don’t say “majority opinion” because I don’t think there are five justices who will necessarily agree on a common rationale for their agreed upon result."

Drug spending levels off, but not for the usual reasons (NPR-Shots) "Normally, a slowdown in spending is because the drug industry hasn't produced many breakthrough medications — with their hefty price tags. But that wasn't the case this time around. Last year saw "the introduction of the most new medicines in a decade," according to the report, including "breakthrough therapies ... to treat several types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and cardiovascular conditions." Greater use of generics had something to do with the leveling off...But the bigger reason for the slow growth was a decline in actual use of prescription drugs, particularly by seniors, who are traditionally the biggest consumers of the products."

Male birth control: New procedure is 100% effective, reversible (The Huffington Post) - "A new birth control procedure shows promising signs of becoming another viable option for people who don't want children now, but may want them some day. Techcitement points out that the procedure, which is in advanced clinical trials in India, has been found to be 100 percent effective. One downside — depending on how you feel about shots — is that it requires the man's penis to be injected with a polymer gel called Vasalgel, after a local anesthetic has been given. The substance works by breaking apart sperm."

Dartmouth medical school gets a new doctor, Seuss (The Boston Globe) - "He’s not a real doc. But at Dartmouth, that’s cool. He can still have his name on the medical school. That’s Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel, the late, beloved children’s author who, with his wife Audrey, has donated more money to Dartmouth College than anyone in history. Their generosity was rewarded Wednesday as the college renamed its medical school after the family, giving Seuss’s doctor title a little more resonance. (The school will officially be called The Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine.)"

Dartmouth Atlas's Skinner on high-cost hospitals (The Washington Post's WonkBlog) - "On Tuesday, I wrote about a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study suggesting that more expensive hospitals in New York provided higher-quality health care. Those results seemed to contradict findings from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which has produced a stream of research suggesting that more spending doesn’t correlate with better-quality care. So I reached out to Dartmouth’s Jon Skinner, a researcher with the Atlas, to get his take."

This program aired on April 5, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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