Longer Looks: Drug Pricing; Paying For Birth Control; Amazon’s Medical Advice
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
Juliana Keeping is rushing to work in Oklahoma with two children in tow. Her three-year-old son, Eli, has cystic fibrosis, a deadly lung disorder. He is too young for a drug called Orkambi from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a biotech firm, but one day it may keep him alive. His mother’s question is why it costs over $250,000. A charity helped pay for its development, she says, with some donations from people who were “D-Y-I-N-G”—she spells out the word. That is because she doesn’t want her other child to understand. “She doesn’t know her brother’s disease is F-A-T-A-L.” (9/3)
Obamacare Was Supposed To Make All Birth Control Free. As A Doctor, I See It’s Not Happening.
All contraceptives are to be covered without a copay. That was the promise of the Affordable Care Act when it passed in 2010. The specific provision regarding contraceptive coverage took effect in 2013. Advocates and policymakers repeat this assertion all the time. But I know, as many practicing physicians do, that it is not as simple as that. (Tracey Wilkinson, 9/6)
The New Yorker:
The Drug Of Choice For The Age Of Kale
Leanna Standish, a researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, estimated that “on any given night in Manhattan, there are a hundred ayahuasca ‘circles’ going on.” The main psychoactive substance in ayahuasca has been illegal since it was listed in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, but Standish, who is the medical director of the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center, recently applied for permission from the F.D.A. to do a Phase I clinical trial of the drug—which she believes could be used in treatments for cancer and Parkinson’s disease. (Ariel Levy, 9/4)
A Clinton Adviser Weighs In On Society’s Stigma Against Those With Mental Illness
Last week, Hillary Clinton unveiled a sweeping proposal that would expand suicide prevention efforts nationwide and get more Americans mental health care. Many mental-health advocates praised the plan, with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s Janice Frey-Angel calling it “the most comprehensive mental-health plan put forth by a presidential candidate.” Of course, whether Clinton will be able to pass her policies remains up in the air: In the past, Congress been reluctant to spend too much on mental-health fixes. (Francie Diep, 9/7)
The New Science Of Disease Recovery
While scientists have carefully chronicled the damage that the immune system can wreak on the body, they have paid much less attention to the mechanisms in place to repair it. “We spend a lot of our time figuring out how to stop the disease, but the real problem is how to get better, how to recover,” said David Schneider, an immunologist at Stanford University. “It’s possible that getting better is a different thing, not just the reverse of getting sick.” (Emily Singer, 9/6)
Amazon Is A Giant Purveyor Of Medical Quackery
Amazon’s websites are hawking a universe of dangerous, pseudoscience health products — from electronic "zappers" that promise to cure HIV to bleach enemas for autism. That’s according to an investigation by UK’s Sun newspaper, which accuses the internet giant of profiting off people’s desperation and illness by selling unproven, snake-oil products. (Julia Belluz, 9/6)