Daily Rounds: Drug Prices To Plummet; ACOs Catch On; Prozac In Pregnancy; 'Tax Soda!'

Drug prices to plummet in wave of expiring patents - The Denver Post "The cost of prescription medicines used by millions of people every day is about to plummet. The next 14 months will bring generic versions of seven of the world's 20 best-selling drugs, including the top two: cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix. The magnitude of this wave of expiring drug patents is unprecedented. Between now and 2016, blockbusters with about $255 billion in global annual sales are set to go off patent, notes EvaluatePharma Ltd., a London research firm. Generic competition will decimate sales of the brand-name drugs and slash the cost to patients and companies that provide health benefits." (Denver Post)

Health care providers embracing cost-saving groups - "Between 60 and 80 health care organizations use private accountable care models now, and that number will rise by at least 100 next year as the Medicare pilot program begins, said Elliott Fisher, director of Dartmouth's Center for Health Policy Research. That number will exceed 200 in 2013 and hit between 500 and 1,000 such organizations within three years, he said. Of the five organizations in a pilot program run by Dartmouth and the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, only one was active in 2008." (USA Today)

Use of antidepressants during pregnancy is questioned - The Boston Globe "In the past decade there has been a flurry of research into the effects of antidepressants on pregnancy...This month, a report in the Archives of General Psychiatry by Kaiser Permanente researchers suggested that pregnant women who use SSRIs might increase their likelihood of having a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Released in conjunction with a landmark study reporting that environmental factors may play a much larger role in autism than previously thought, the findings on antidepressants have fueled the debate over whether SSRIs can be harmful during pregnancy. (Some of the same researchers participated in both studies.)" (

Tax Soda, Subsidize Vegetables - Mark Bittman: "Rather than subsidizing the production of unhealthful foods, we should turn the tables and tax things like soda, French fries, doughnuts and hyperprocessed snacks. The resulting income should be earmarked for a program that encourages a sound diet for Americans by making healthy food more affordable and widely available. The average American consumes 44.7 gallons of soft drinks annually." (

Messing With Medicare - Paul Krugman: "The crucial thing to remember, when we talk about Medicare, is that our goal isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, defined in terms of some arbitrary number. Our goal should be, instead, to give Americans the health care they need at a price the country can afford. And throwing Americans in their mid-60s off Medicare moves us away from that goal, not toward it. For Medicare, with all its flaws, works better than private insurance. It has less bureaucracy and, hence, lower administrative costs than private insurers. It has been more successful in controlling costs. While Medicare expenses per beneficiary have soared over the past 40 years, they’ve risen significantly less than private insurance premiums." (

This program aired on July 25, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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