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The Lancet Right Care Series, deceptive supplement marketing, and more

January 12, 2017

We’ve changed our format so that you can now read shorter summaries of more top stories. As always, we continue to provide links to the many other articles relating to moving our health care system toward the right care for all.

Join the conversation: Post your comments in our new section at the bottom of this page.

Congratulations to Lown Institute President Vikas Saini, MD and Senior Vice President Shannon Brownlee, MSc for co-leading The Lancet Right Care Series, five papers assessing the global scope, causes, and consequences of overuse and underuse. The series, commissioned by The Lancet, drew research from 27 authors from 9 countries and 21 institutions. It was launched on Monday at a special all-day event at Kings College London. Domestic and international media featured the work, including Reuters and BBC. Don Berwick, MD, president emeritus of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, who wrote the accompanying commentary, states that the papers “are stunning in their scholarship, reach, theoretical grounding and import…I hope these essays will prove to be game-changers, sparking a new wave of effort to improve the health care of people all over the world.” Read the papers and our explainer.

You may have seen television advertisements for Prevagen, a supplement that allegedly reduces memory problems associated with aging. Like many other supplements, the evidence to support Prevagen’s health claims is non-existent. The Federal Trade Commission and New York State are challenging the marketers of Prevagen, charging them with making false and deceptive claims based on manipulated data. They hope to refund the $165 million customers have spent on this ineffective supplement since 2007.

Diclegis, the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Association to treat morning sickness, is also under scrutiny, Stat reports. Researchers at the University of Toronto have uncovered an unpublished study of Bendectin, a previous version of the drug, that contains significant methodological errors, including missing data. The researchers conclude, “regulatory decisions that are based on this trial should be revisited.”

According to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services, the high prices of certain drugs have lead to enormous increases in spending for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. Federal payments for catastrophic coverage tripled from 2010 to 2015, rising from $10.8 billion to $33.2 billion. While payments for high-priced drugs constituted a third of Medicare Part D spending in 2010, they made up two-thirds of spending in 2015. Outgoing HHS Secretary Burwell says, let Medicare negotiate drug prices.

Some 73 percent of individuals who visit a public library in the U.S. seek answers to health questions, according to a 2015 study from the Pew Research Center. Some libraries, eager to help beyond just lending books, are now bringing health services directly to their customers. As featured in Governing, libraries in Philadelphia and elsewhere are providing pediatric and primary care clinics on site, helping seniors enroll in Medicare, and employing nurses who make rounds at various branches—novel approaches to access.

Announcements

In partnership with JAMA Internal Medicine , the Lown Institute is offering the second annual Right Care Vignette Competition for 2017. If you are a trainee or student in the health professions, we want to hear your stories! Submit your vignette here.

Do you have a teammate or colleague in the Right Care Alliance who has demonstrated extraordinary passion and dedication to right care? Nominate them for a Right Care Alliance Award! The award recipients will be recognized at the 5th Annual Lown Institute Conference in May.

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Overuse

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RightCare Weekly is made possible through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.