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Med-Sci Matters by Dr. Dave

Med-Sci Matters by Dr. Dave

August 29, 2016 0 Comments

1. Pay to Play with Docs?

new study published in BMJ shows that doctors who receive payments from drug companies are more likely to prescribe or recommend their products, at least when it comes to brand-name anticoagulants or non-insulin diabetes medications. The findings showed one additional payment in a region – and the median payment value was just $13 – was associated with approximately 80 additional days filled of the marketed drug in the region. Payments to specialists – and for speaking and consulting fees – were associated with larger regional changes in prescribing than payments for nonspecialists or payments for food and beverages or education. The study used data on drug company payments to US physicians and academic centers – which drug companies are now required to publicly file via the “Open Payments” tool of the Affordable Care Act, and run by CMS – along with prescription data from Medicare Part D from 306 US hospital referral regions. “Payments” were defined broadly, and included speaker fees for education lectures, consulting fees, honorariums, gifts, food and beverages, journal article reprints or textbooks, travel and lodging, research support, grants, charitable donations in lieu of payment, fees for rental of space or use of facility, and royalties or licensing fees. The story was covered in U.S. News & World Report and various online outlets.

2. BMI and Mortality: No More Weight and See?

The Lancet has a new report from The Global BMI Mortality Collaboration of the largest-ever pooled dataset about BMI (body mass index, a weight-for-height measure, kg body weight/height in meters2) and mortality, based on data from 239 studies in 32 countries on four continents, with more than 10 million participants and about 1.6 million deaths. The findings are broadly similar to other recent studies. For example, the risk of mortality associated with BMI was J-shaped, with the lowest for normal weight (BMI 18.5 to < 25 kg/m2); increased risk for underweight (BMI 15 to < 18.5) and overweight (25 to < 30); and progressively greater risks with further increasing BMI (30 and above). The study also showed different associations between BMI and mortality across different continents; weaker associations in older populations, especially in those aged 70 years+; and weaker associations in women than men (sorry guys!).

3. Got Game? Get Adherence!

The Chicago Tribune reported that Walgreens will collaborate with HealthPrize Technologies to offer a digital health program aimed at helping patients stick to their medications. Through the Walgreens website, patients can sign up for the free program, “which awards points for taking medications on time, refilling prescriptions and taking educational quizzes about their conditions and medications.” The first product, for people with diabetes, will go live early this fall, and will be followed by games and quizzes for patients with high cholesterol, depression, lung disease and gastrointestinal problems. Also covered in Crain’s Chicago Business.

4. Science and the Election

The prestigious science journal Nature had a special section on science and the election, including an article examining the differences between the presidential candidates on science, particularly climate change, energy production and stem-cell research. Not surprisingly, the candidates are “worlds apart,” as the article title states, on these and other science topics. But as this ventures into the realm of politics, I’ll leave it to you to read the articles, and will say no more!

5. Not For Geeks Only: Cool Stuff

  • Non-Addictive Morphine Alternative? In a report in Nature, researchers designed a compound (PZM21) that may have the pain-relieving power of morphine but not its dangerous (e.g., respiratory depression) or addictive side effects. After computationally selecting PZM21 from more than 3 million candidate molecules, scientists studied it in mice and showed it offered nearly as much pain relief as morphine and lasted for up to three hours. However, mice treated with PZM21 did not find it addictive – at least, they didn’t say it was (ha ha) – as shown by not being more likely to return to a place where they got the drug than to visit a similar chamber where they could get a saline solution. Bloomberg News reported that the research, “…comes at a time when the number of Americans who die each year because of overdoses (more than 47,000) has exceeded the number killed in car accidents.” Also covered in the Los Angeles Times, ReutersSTATNPR and Fox News.
  • The Scientist had an interesting report on a small study in paraplegic patients, which found that those who regularly trained with brain-machine interfaces (BMI) to walk in a virtual world or articulate an exoskeleton using their brains have regained some sensation and voluntary muscle control at sites below the spinal cord lesions that caused their paralysis. The results of the eight-person trial appeared in Scientific Reports.

So, you think you know about exercise? Take this fun, 10-question quiz from The Scientist about the physiological and health impact of exercise.

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