Reflex: September 2, 2011

Paula Span writes about Lipitor becoming available OTC. The blockbuster cholesterol drug would be the biggest (in terms of sales) OTC medicine to date. Don’s comments: Current randomized trial work looking at the impact on cost and quality of life of discontinuing such drugs in persons with very short life expectancy could obviously be influenced by such a decision. File this one in “the things you couldn’t predict when you wrote the proposal” file.

Fact checking Biden’s claim that the GOP will eliminate Medicare in 10 years. Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) writes that Biden “crosses a line here by flatly saying the GOP plan ‘eliminates’ Medicare in a decade. Austin’s comments: What the GOP plan does is eliminate the overwhelmingly popular traditional Medicare (public) option for new beneficiaries and gradually reduce government support for private plans that would replace it. Not in ten years, but over a longer span of time and by design, government support for those plans would become vanishingly small due to the way they’re inflation indexed. 

The CDC reports that vaccine coverage for children age 19-35 months is pretty good, but could be better.  Today’s MMWR reports that coverage for most vaccines increased from 2009 to 2010. That’s good because as they state, “[a] recent economic analysis of the United States immunization policy indicated that vaccination of each U.S. birth cohort with the current childhood immunization schedule prevents approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease, with net savings of nearly $14 billion in direct costs and $69 billion in total societal costs.” Aaron’s Comment: I say this all the time, but vaccines are safe and vaccines work. Get your children vaccinated.

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