Monthly Archives: January 2008

Philip Morris Moves On, And Millions Will Die

I can’t  get my mind off an article that appeared yesterday on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.


The headline is pretty straight forward: “Philip Morris Readies Aggressive Global Push.”


The content is close to as scary as it gets.


Attached to the article is a smiling picture of the soon to be anointed head of Philip Morris International, a gentleman named Louis Camilleri.  I suspect he is smiling because he is probably going to make a ridiculous amount of money.


To me, Mr. Camilleri is the next generation of the merchant of death.


For those of you who don’t follow these matters, allow me to enlighten you. 


Philip Morris, a/k/a Altria, is about to unleash its international division as a separate company no longer affiliated with its United States counterpart.  The sick part of this transaction (they let go of Kraft Foods a while ago, so we no longer have to mix Oreos with cigarettes) is that Wall Street and investors world-wide are literally salivating at the prospect.


Why, you might ask?  The details are nicely outlined in the article. 


Let me provide a … Continue reading →

Medicare Co-Pays: Mammograms Take A Hit

An article and editorial in today’s New England Journal of Medicine puts the issue of insurance, access to care and preventive medical services squarely on the front lines of the health care debate.


In what is a deceivingly simple and elegant analysis, the authors show that in Medicare managed care plans, increasing insurance cost-sharing and copayments leads directly to reduced use of a clearly necessary and effective medical service, namely screening mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer.


The authors show that as co-payments and co-insurance for screening mammograms are implemented and increase, there is a direct correlation with fewer women getting this valuable medical service which we know can save lives.


And, to make matters worse, the women who were more likely to be subjected to these cost-management tools were more likely to be poor, to be black, and to be less educated.


This is exactly the type of situation that has led the American Cancer Society to make such a major commitment to educating the country about the issues surrounding access to and affordability of medical care in the United States during this Presidential campaign.


What the authors did was … Continue reading →

The Great American Health Check 2008

Back in December when I wrote about my screening colonoscopy, I made some personal notes about what I thought was important with regard to getting healthy and staying healthy.


At the top of the list was the need to take individual responsibility for your health, along with having an identifiable source of regular medical care, such as a primary care physician.


This week, the American Cancer Society is urging everyone to take charge of your health by understanding what you and your family need to do to reduce your risk of cancer, and to stay healthy by sticking with healthy habits.


The Society’s Great American Health Check is designed to help you know what you need to know to do what you need to do to accomplish your goals to improve your health during 2008.


I have long been an advocate for people taking personal responsibility for their health, and developing healthy habits as the cornerstone for avoiding illness. 


I am certainly not alone.  The American Cancer Society, many other organizations and certainly the medical community have been delivering the prevention message for years.


The sad fact is that too many people aren’t … Continue reading →

Judah Folkman, MD

A giant in medical research has passed on.


Judah Folkman, MD, died Monday.  News reports suggest that a heart attack was the cause.


What is special about Dr. Folkman is that he embodied many of the scientific attributes that have helped move medical research and cancer treatment forward over the past several decades, and possessed many of the personal qualities that many of us admire.


I can’t say that I knew Dr. Folkman.  I knew who he was.  But other than being aware of his research and his reputation, hearing a couple of lectures, and spending a day with him a little over a year ago at an American Cancer Society function, I wasn’t someone who had worked with him, or studied under him.


You couldn’t help but admire his presence.  I don’t know what he was like when working in the lab, but spending that day with him in Florida last year was–in a word–fascinating.


His humility, his openness, his honesty and his personal warmth were magnetic.  Had you met him on the street, or sat next to him on a plane you would have had no idea … Continue reading →

The Smoker In The Restaurant: The Smoker Wins

There is no doubt left that second hand smoke is dangerous to your health. 


As a result, many organizations and individuals have worked diligently on several fronts to get state legislatures and local governments to pass smoke-free laws and ordinances. 


There is no getting around the fact that many of us have come to expect smoke-free environments where we work, where we shop and when we go out to eat.


So what happens when there is blatant violation of the law?


My wife and I found out this past weekend.  The answer, at least in Georgia: not much.


So, here we were this past Saturday—my wife and me—walking through our neighborhood mall.  We had just spent most of our day at a medical organization meeting, and decided to stop by to pick up a couple of things on the way home.


Then we went into one of the mall’s restaurants for an adult beverage and some time to just relax, talk, and basically take a break.


The place of our choosing was one of those trendy, upscale places that attract people much younger than we are.  You … Continue reading →

A Friend Is Gone

My heart is saddened. A friend has lost his battle with cancer.


My friend’s name was Ralph Rothwell.  He was in his late 50’s.  He died Friday morning from complications of his disease.


In so many ways Ralph was a special person.  And, in so many ways he was typical of the millions of people who have fought their own battles with cancer and have touched every one of us.


Ralph was an attorney who I first met a number of years ago.  He was obviously intelligent and capable.  He wasn’t a fancy person.  His office was modest, his staff very competent.  His counsel was steady, understanding and supportive.


I guess the best way I could characterize Ralph was that he was comfortable in his own skin.  He loved his wife, he was proud of his family, he enjoyed his friends, and he liked to play golf.  He wasn’t flashy nor did he seek the limelight.


It wasn’t until we had worked together for a couple of years and completed the business part of our relationship that he wanted to tell me something: Ralph was a … Continue reading →