Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Public Health' Category

I’d rather have HIV than diabetes

This is what a provocative article in the Spectator concludes. A recent large epidemiological study showed that, for those diagnosed with HIV now, life expectancy is similar to someone who does not have the virus. The medical profession now considers HIV a chronic disease; it’s regarded in public health terms in the same category as, […]

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Are we running out of antibiotics?

Nicole Allan of the Atlantic discusses why overuse of antibiotics is making them less effective.  The fact that antibiotics are less effective did not come as a surprise to many experts.  In fact, in 1945, “while accepting a Nobel Prize for discovering penicillin, Alexander Fleming warned of a future in which antibiotics had been used […]

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Free Heroin?

Giving away heroin may sound like a good plan for a start-up drug dealer.; get new customers hooked and them make money off their addiction.  Drug dealers aren’t the only ones considering giving heroin away for free; so are some European governments. The Economist reports: Over the past two decades many have come to favour […]

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Cancer Tidal Wave

People are living longer. That is good news. The bad news is that when you decrease the mortality rates for some diseases, you increase the likelihood that you die from other ones. For instance, if someone previously would have died of a heart attack at 50 year old in 1950, if that same person turned […]

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Lifetime protection aganst the flu?

The Atlantic has an interesting article about recent efforts to create a flu vaccine that protects patients against influenza for decades, or even their entire lifetime. Currently, the flu vaccine helps the body produce antibodies that attack influenza surface proteins. The problem is that the flu is quick learner; it readily mutates ts surface proteins […]

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Should the CDC warn Americans about a ‘potential’ epidemic?

Although at first glance, the answer would be ‘yes’, the answer is not so straight-forward.  Consider the case of the recent H7N9 influenza outbreak in China.  Although the media gave some coverage to this issue, the risk of a pandemic was not emphasized. The reason may be Bayesian updating.  Previous influenza threats in recent years […]

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NYC Soda Ban: Good Policy or Good Intentions Gone Awry?

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg enacted a law that would limit New York City resident’s ability to purchase certain drinks.  No, not alcohol.  Soda.  NPR reports that the “ban would have limited the size of sugary drinks at restaurants, theaters and food carts to 16 ounces.”  Small businesses did not like the idea because large sugary […]

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What does a NICE health economist do?

What role do health economists at the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) play and how do they conduct their cost effectiveness analyses for new treatments? I answer this question today based on NICE’s own documents.  According to their guidelines manual, the role of the health economist in clinical guideline development is to: […]

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Capitalism and Russia’s Alcohol Problem

It turns out that capitalism was not the cause of Russia’s current (largely alcohol-related) mortality crisis.  From an NBER working paper by Bhattacharya, Gathmann, and Miller (2012): Political and economic transition is often blamed for Russia’s 40% surge in deaths between 1990 and 1994. Highlighting that increases in mortality occurred primarily among alcohol-related causes and […]

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Does the Optimal Medical Treatment of Hepatitis C depend on whether the Patient is Incarcerated?

Incarcerated individuals are more likely to have the hepatitis C virus (HCV) than those who live in the community.  The high prevalence of HCV infection in the prison population is largely due tot he fact that prisoners hare more likely to have a history of intravenous drug use.  “A history of intravenous drug use is […]

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