Miscellany / Weekend Wrap-up

  • The American Medical Association’s Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement approved ten new physician quality measures at a June 1 meeting. The Consortium has developed 184 performance measures that cover conditions that represent 80 percent of Medicare spending.
  • HHS has created a new “Health Care Report Card Compendium” web site that is a searchable directory of health care “report cards” which provide comparative information on the quality of health plans, hospitals, medical groups, individual physicians, nursing homes, and other providers of care.”
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the Avandia controversy next Wednesday June 6. The FDA Commissioner, the doctor who authored the NEJM study that kicked off the controversy, the NEJM editor who opined on the study and Glaxo’s pharmaceutical research chairman will be testifying. Business Week included a report on the “High Cost” of the controversy which observed:

    Caught in the middle [of the Avandia controversy] are the diabetes patients already taking Avandia, which sensitizes the body to insulin. Doctors in the trenches say many patients are confused and scared, which raises concerns that they may stop taking the drug without medical consultation. “This kind of controversy really frustrates the average doctor,” says Dr. Rob Lamberts, a primary-care physician with Evans Medical Group in Evans, Ga., who treats a number of diabetics. He finds the data in Nissen’s study questionable and would prefer to wait for the results of the large, rigorously designed safety trial of Avandia which is scheduled to end in 2009.

  • Wal-Mart announced at its annual meeting this week that 38% of its pharmacy sales are $4 generic drugs. Wal-Mart’s COO estimates that the $4 generic program has saved consumer $350 million since it was introduced in November 2006.