Reflex: September 30, 2011

AHIP blames medical costs for premium increases: “Policymakers in Washington and the states need to address all of the factors that are driving premium increases: soaring prices for medical services, changes in the covered population that has resulted in an older and sicker risk pool, and new benefit and coverage mandates that add to the cost of insurance. ” Austin’s comment: Those are by no means all the factors driving premium increases. Next week I’ll tell you, and AHIP, what they are.

Chronic pain drug fails clinical trial, writes David Ranii. The patch-delivery form of a drug (BEMA Buprenorphine) to treat chronic pain failed to show better results than placebo, BioDelivery announced yesterday. Don’s comment: Chronic pain is a major reason that persons with long term disabling medical conditions are unable to work, greatly increasing societal costs of illness for persons age 18-64. BioDelivery says it will develop another clinical trial to further test the drug by limiting the patients in the trial, as they note this trial was “skewed by those patients who aren’t accustomed to taking opioid pain relievers.” It is important to find therapies for chronic pain, but also key to remember the risks of introducing selection effects into clinical trials for therapies that are likely to be more broadly prescribed.  

You may only need 15 minutes of exercise a day to get some benefits, reports a study in the Lancet. Right now, the recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week (or 30 minutes per day). But in this study, “[c]ompared with individuals in the inactive group, those in the low-volume activity group, who exercised for an average of 92 min per week or 15 min a day, had a 14% reduced risk of all-cause mortality , and had a 3 year longer life expectancy. Every additional 15 min of daily exercise beyond the minimum amount of 15 min a day further reduced all-cause mortality by 4% and all-cancer mortality by 1%.” Aaron’s Comment: It constantly frustrates me how we focus on huge advances, while ignoring the real changes we could make right now. It’s amazing how much of a difference small differences can make over the long term.

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