Patent Pools Pushed To Make Drugs Affordable in Developing World

Merrill Goozner

Published 5/9/12 in The Fiscal Times

Amid a growing crisis in financing treatments for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world, an arm of the World Health Organization will meet in Geneva later this month to consider alternative ways of producing lower-cost drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools to fight the those diseases in poor countries.

A background report issued last month by a working group of the World Health Assembly called for establishing a global research and development treaty that would beef up research into cures for so-called neglected tropical diseases. It also called for the treaty to create mechanisms for ensuring the next generation of drugs for fighting those diseases could be produced by generic firms at prices barely above the cost of manufacturing.

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Critics Pounce on Cancer Care Costs Study

Merrill Goozner

Posted 4/12/12 on Gooz News

From Reuters: With the United States spending more on healthcare than any other country — $2.5 trillion, or just over $8,000 per capita, in 2009 — the question has long been, is it worth it? At least for spending on cancer, a controversial new study answers with an emphatic “yes.”

Cancer patients in the United States who were diagnosed from 1995 to 1999 lived an average 11.1 years after that, compared with 9.3 years for those in 10 countries in Europe, researchers led by health economist Tomas Philipson of the University of Chicago reported in an analysis published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

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Rationing Redux: The Dog That Didn’t Bark

Merrill Goozner

Published 4/10/12 in The Fiscal Times

Last week, physician groups representing nearly half of America’s doctors issued guidelines that would limit Americans’ access to allegedly unnecessary medical tests and procedures. The public reaction was noticeable for the one thing that was missing – a public outcry against rationing.

That was reserved for the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on a completely separate issue. The Republican majority last week cast another symbolic vote against what it calls rationing in the health care reform law better known as Obamacare.

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Day Three – The Wrap Up

Merrill Goozner

Posted 3/29/12 on Gooz News

This is what conservative justices will do if they strike down or cripple the health-care law … A court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology. now  – E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post

The insurance mandate was effectively reduced to a bumper sticker by the opponents in their constitutional challenge, and the entire law reduced to little more than an appendage to the mandate. . . The fate of the mandate should not determine the survival of the other elements of the law — like prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher fees — which can operate without the mandate. – New York Times editorial

Overturning the whole law would be an act of judicial restraint. – The Wall Street Journal editorial

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The Mandate May Fall, But Not Reform

Merrill Goozner

Posted 3/24/12 on Gooz News

Opponents of health care reform, whose case will be heard next week by the Supreme Court, base their complaint against the Obama administration’s signature domestic achievement on the claim that its individual mandate to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

Challengers, including state attorneys general and governors in a majority of states, say it represents an unwarranted extension of the constitution’s commerce clause into the personal realm of individual choice. If people do not want to buy a particular product – in this case health insurance – the government has no right to make them.

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The Legal Strategy To Defend Health Reform

Joe Paduda

Posted 3/15/11 on Managed Care Matter

There’s a seemingly intractable conflict facing the Obama Administration – how can they argue – simultaneously – that the mandate is crucial to the Affordable Care Act, while also arguing that the rest of the Act should and can survive if the Supreme Court rules the mandate is unconstitutional?

That’s the Hobson’s choice facing lawyers arguing for the Administration, and while the two positions seem irreconcilable, they may not be.

Merrill Goozner is convinced the two positions can comprise a reasonable and legally logical argument. He cites a recent article in the NEJM, to wit:

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Defending the Affordable Care Act

Merrill Goozner

Posted 3/14/12 on Gooz News

What will they do? The Supreme Court (more or less) that gave us Bush v Gore in 2000 will later this month hear arguments by states challenging the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. health care reform. The heart of the legal challenge raised by conservative state attorneys general is whether the individual mandate is constitutional. What happens if the Supremes say no? Does the entire law fall, or just the mandate?

The issue for lawyers is called “severability.” Did Congress when passing the law believe the mandate was necessary to the smooth functioning of the rest of the law? Clearly there are large swaths of the law for which the mandate is largely irrelevant: the physician payments sunshine act (disclosure of drug company payments to doctors); the creation of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct comparative effectiveness research; the numerous payment pilot projects; and more.

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