Remembering Dr. Graboys, pushing for lower drug prices, and more interviews with conference speakers

January 22, 2015

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The Lown Institute family mourns the loss of President Emeritus Thomas B. Graboys, MD , who died on January 5. A fellow under the tutelage of Lown Institute founder Bernard Lown, MD, Graboys later became a leader in the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, and along with Dr. Lown and other physicians, he was active in the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. “Patients treasured him,” said Dr. Lown. “Tom was a jewel in the crown of medicine. His death creates an immense void for all those who knew him, especially his family, patients and friends. Facile words are inadequate to overcome the emptiness.” Read more, including obituaries in the New York Times and the Boston Globe.


In a New York Times op-ed this week, Peter Bach, MD, takes on the idea that insurance plans ought to cover every drug option for each disease and suggests that the lack of effective competition boosts prices for drugs that are no more effective than cheaper alternatives. He cites recent decisions by hospitals and pharmacy benefit managers to cover only one alternative hepatitis C and cancer drugs. The manufacturers dropped prices when faced with payers willing to say “no.” Even better, though, would be to “explain to the public that some drugs are not effective enough to justify their price.” Setting more rational prices for drugs would give patients the opportunity to spend more on important public health needs, and less on marginally effective treatments that don’t make much difference for patients.


Harlan Krumholz, MD, believes our healthcare system is not set up so that patients can participate in informed decision-making. “For me, it’s all about creating dialogue with patients, placing the patient in the center of decisions. We need to make sure that patient choices are aligned with their goals, and that we accommodate a wide range of choices,” he says.  Steven Nissen, MD, complains that 20 percent of our GDP is spent on healthcare. “But patients don’t fare better. We work in a system that is driven by perverse incentives: we get paid more for doing more to patients. It’s got to stop.” Both physicians are dynamic keynote speakers at the Lown Institute Conference, Road to RightCare, March 8-11 in San Diego. Read more about why Dr. Krumholz and Dr. Nissen are coming to the conference. Open to all, conference registration closes on February 10. If you haven’t registered, please do so today.


Panelists at our conference include a number of authors of great books on right care, including:


QUESTION: What do you think were the most important healthcare books of 2014?


Announcement: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a documentary featuring Judy Norsigian, a founder of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and panelist at the Lown Institute annual meeting in March, opens next month at several locations. Take a sneak peak.







Payment system


Public health


End-of-life and elder care


Shared decision making


Patient safety


Practice models






Conflict of interest


2014 in review


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