Monthly Archives: May 2014

From The ASCO Meeting In Chicago: A Focus On Cost, Value, And Financial Toxicity Of Cancer Care

At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) here in Chicago, something vitally important is happening: there is an increasing recognition of something no one really wanted to talk about in polite company until now. It is the fact that the costs of many of the new treatments being developed are extraordinary.

The headlines about cost and value of cancer care greeted me when I walked into the McCormick Center in Chicago for the opening sessions of the meeting. This is the leading cancer meeting in the world, and what happens here makes news worldwide, significantly impacting the lives of patients with cancer wherever they may be.

Now there is an increasing recognition of the elephant in the room: the costs of these new treatments are extraordinary. No matter how one chooses to slice and dice the arguments, these drugs are expensive with costs per month of $8000 and upwards getting a lot of attention and increasing concerns, especially at this meeting. [more]

For years, it was whispered in hallways, muttered about with reporters, but now it’s out in the open. The headlines say it, the lecturers say it, the attendees are talking about it. There … Continue reading →

The FDA Lays Down The Law About The Dangers Of Indoor Tanning

In what has to be considered a major victory for those concerned about the proliferating use and risks of tanning beds, the Food and Drug Administration this week issued a final rule requiring devices used for indoor tanning to meet very specific requirements before they can be marketed to the public. And in what is probably an even more important part of the rule, they now instruct those who market tanning devices to consumers to warn them clearly about the very real and serious risks of indoor tanning. [more]

What this means in plain terms is that if you use a tanning bed you will have to see a clearly defined boxed warning before you get in the bed that says tanning bed use is contraindicated if you are under 18. And for the rest of you who may be so inclined, you will have to be warned in a variety of other ways–including web pages, advertisements, and brochures–of the following:

(A) “Contraindication: This product is contraindicated for use on persons under the age of 18 years.”

(B) “Contraindication: This product must not be used if skin lesions or open wounds are present.”

(C) “Warning: This product should not be Continue reading →

“Don’t Fry Day” Reminds Us To Take Care Of Our Skin Since It’s The Only One We Get

“Don’t Fry Day,” which we “celebrate” every year on the Friday before Memorial Day is an annual reminder to be good to the skin you’re in. It’s the only one you get. Wear it out or damage it and you don’t get to replace it, like we do with heart valves, knees, hips, and so on.

This year Don’t Fry Day is even more personal to me. After hounding all of you to be careful in the sun, I got a very personal reminder this past year of why that’s important: two surgeries and two scars from removing skin cancers. One of those scars is pretty visible and a daily reminder of my own past unwise sun behavior. Like many folks, I’m glad the cancer is gone. But I also wish it hadn’t been there in the first place.

The reality is that my generation had very little knowledge and very few options when it came to avoiding the dangers of too much sun exposure. We went outdoors, we went to the beach, we didn’t have sunscreen, and we just lay there and took it. We thought we looked good. If we worked outdoors–like I did when I was … Continue reading →

We Need A Sense Of Urgency To Assure The Safety Of Health Information Technology

This was the dream: we would use technology to create a seamless healthcare system, one where people, computers and machines would work together to improve patient care in many different ways. Health care would be more efficient, it would be safer, it would be less expensive, we would be able to transfer health-related information quickly and accurately.

After spending three days at a meeting this past week with some of the top experts in the field, I am not so certain that the dream is going to come true anytime soon. Perhaps more concerning, the problems–including patient safety issues–that are cropping up in so many areas are very troubling. [more]

The meeting was organized by three federal agencies involved in the oversight of medical devices, applications and health information technology including the Food and Drug Administration, the Office of the National Coordinator for Heatlh Information Technology (housed in the Executive Branch) and the Federal Communications Commission. Those three agencies recently released a report describing their vision for regulation of health information technology. The purpose of the meeting was to extend the discussion. (I have listed links to several relevant documents at the end of this blog.)

I came … Continue reading →

Relay For Life Is All About People Making A Difference In The Fight Against Cancer Every Day In So Many Ways

My wife and I did something special this past Friday evening. We attended a Relay for Life in our hometown of Thomasville GA. And the memories of the event will not be soon forgotten, for so many reasons. [more]

I have lived in Thomasville for the past 13 years. It is a town in southwest GA, just north of the Georgia-Florida state line, with some manufacturing, lots of farming, a major company headquarters, lots of small businesses…in many ways a typical Southern small town. Population is about 18,500 with more in the surrounding counties. It is diverse, it is not wealthy, and it has its own charm and its own struggles. But for me it has been a wonderful place to live and to be part of a growing family that is now spread across our great nation.

Relay has been part of Thomas County for many years. And although I have attended in the past, it was always as a visitor to share the moment with others, all of whom come to Relay for their own very personal and special reasons. Frequently I couldn’t attend Relay in Thomasville because of other work related demands which required me to … Continue reading →