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The Tobacco Dilemma: Corporate Profits or Customers’ Health?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture


Photo courtesty Creative Commons

For those of us who have been impacted by the death of loved ones due to the negative health consequences of smoking, the recent announcement by Larry Merlo, the CEO of the U.S. pharmacy chain CVS, to stop selling tobacco products in the chain’s 7,600 stores, was a ray of hope and a step toward a future when public health concerns trump short-term profit motives.
 

U.S. health reform – The cartoon version

Owen Smith's picture

Health Care Reform, by Jonathan GruberIn a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the main provisions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate (i.e., everyone must buy health insurance). It represents a major step towards universal coverage for health care in the U.S., something that many countries around the world are striving to achieve.

For those interested in gaining a better understanding of this complex legislation, you can do no better than to start with a graphic novel about the law written by Jonathan Gruber, a professor at MIT and one of the main architects of the Affordable Care Act (and, for that matter, of the Massachusetts health reform that it closely resembles). It’s a great introduction to the policy issues surrounding market failure in health insurance, without having to wade through a dry textbook or World Bank report.

Are all medical procedures, drugs good for the patient?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

Also available in: РусскийPatients waiting at health center in Angola (credit: UN/Evan Schneider).

When healthcare professionals take the Hippocratic Oath, they promise to prescribe patients regimens based on their “ability and judgment” and to “never do harm to anyone”.

Although extraordinary progress in medical knowledge during the last 50 years, coupled with the development of new technologies, drugs and procedures, has improved health conditions and quality of life, it has also created an ever-growing quandary regarding which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best.

And for policy makers, administrators and health economists, the unrestrained acquisition and use of new medical technologies and procedures (e.g., open heart surgery to replace clogged arteries, ultrasound technology scanners to aid in the detection of heart disease, and life-saving antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS) is increasing health expenditures in an era of fiscal deficits.

In many countries, I’ve see how ensuring value for money in a limited-resources environment is not only difficult but requires careful selection and funding of procedures and drugs. It also comes with serious political, economic and ethical implications—and with new drugs and technologies appearing every day, this challenge isn’t going away. What should countries do?

Все ли методы лечения и лекарства хороши для пациента?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

Patients waiting at health center in Angola (credit: UN/Evan Schneider).

Принимая клятву Гиппократа, профессионалы из области здравоохранения обязуются лечить пациентов, основываясь на своих «способностях и суждениях», а так же «никогда и никому не навредить».

Впечатляющий прорыв в области врачебных знаний за последние 50 лет, сопровождаемый развитием новых высоких технологий, лекарств и методик лечения, значительно улучшил средний уровень здоровья и качества жизни в целом. Однако при этом зачастую это приводит к ситуации, когда все труднее и труднее становится определять, какие же лекарственные средства, методики, тесты и процедуры окажутся самыми эффективными.

 

 Для тех, кто принимает решения и управляет экономикой здравоохранения, бесконечное приобретение и внедрение новых медицинских технологий и процедур (например, операции на открытом сердце, ультразвуковая сканеры для выявления болезней сердца, а так же антиретровирусная терапия против ВИЧ/СПИД) ведет к существенному росту расходов на здравоохранение, особенно заметного в эпоху бюджетных дефицитов.