Utah requires anesthesia for abortions, interview with Ryan Meili, MD, and even more pharma greed

March 31, 2016

In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, RightCare Weekly summarizes and interprets three important articles and provides headlines linking to the many other articles and editorials you’ll find interesting. As always, RightCare Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.

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Utah just became the first state in the US to require providers to administer anesthesia or a heavy dose of narcotics to any woman undergoing an elective abortion at 20 weeks or later. Supporters of the bill claim that fetuses are able to feel pain at about 20 weeks gestation. However, a 2005 systematic review of the literature on fetal pain perception concludes, “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.” On the other hand, a significant body of evidence demonstrates that administering these medications puts patients at risk for a number of complications. David Turok, MD, MPH, Associate Professor in the University of Utah Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, told the Washington Post, “You never give those medicines if you don’t have to.”


A lively discussion is bound to take place on Sunday morning, April 17, at the 4th Annual Lown Institute Conference. Ryan Meili, MD., vice chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and the executive director for Upstream, will be one of the participants  in the symposium titled A Vision of a Better System: Barriers and Opportunities. Don’t know what Upstream is? It’s a nonprofit that believes investing wisely for success in health, or prevention, is smarter than spending time and resources responding to failures, by treating illness. In an interview, Meili insists that we must “reduce poverty, increase income levels and have greater access to housing,” all things proven to advance good health. He prefers the Canadian system to that in the United States, which lacks universal insurance. Nevertheless, the Canadian system is still “imperfect.” A better gauge is comparison with the Nordic nations, which have much better health outcomes, Meili said. Read more of the interview here. Better yet, come to this special session at the JW Marriott Chicago. Other scheduled symposium participants are Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute; Phillip Thompson, PhD, associate professor, Head, Housing, Community and Economic Development, MIT and Joanne Lynn, MD, director of the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness, Altarum Institute.


Just when we think we’ve heard all there is about the peak of pharmaceutical greed in the United States, there’s more. This week, news from NPR, STAT and UPI, tells us that Valeant Pharmaceuticals, after acquiring the sedative Seconal, doubled its price from $1,500 to $3,000. Seconal has been used as a sleep aid, but is now used in physician-assisted suicides. Ironically, the hike occurred just before California proposed legalizing physician-assisted suicides. There are no generics for Seconal which was developed 80 years ago.  David Gruber, MD, a family doctor in Oregon, is appalled. “It’s just pharmaceutical company greed. It’s not a complicated thing to make, there’s no research being done on it, there’s no development. That to me is unconscionable,” he said. In a statement, Valeant insisted “the price increase for the drug occurred shortly after Valeant acquired it, and months before California’s assisted suicide law passed. The suggestion that Valeant raised the price to take advantage of a law that had not passed, for a use for which the drug is not even indicated, defies common sense.” Common sense or savvy forecasting?



  • We can’t wait for our 4th Lown Institute Conference in Chicago, April 15-17. We know you’re going to love the lineup of speakers and workshops. Take a look at our agenda here. See you in Chicago!







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Conflict of interest




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