Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Fraudulent Cancer Research: An Exception or the Tip of the Iceberg

Yesterday, 60 Minutes reported on Dr. Anil Potti, researcher at Duke University.  Dr. Potti supposedly offered cancer patients improved cancer treatments.  These recommendations, however, were based on falsified data. “Five years ago, Duke University announced it had found the holy grail of cancer research. They’d discovered how to match a patient’s tumor to the best chemotherapy […]

Read the rest of this entry »

California Health Care Almanac

The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)’s Health Care Almanac provides some unique insights on trends in health care quality in California and for the United States as a whole.  Many of the national figures for the Almanac come from the CDC (BRFSS and Vital Stats) and AHRQ’s National Healthcare Quality Report.  California quality figures come […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Does getting cancer incentivize individuals to switch from Medicare managed care to FFS?

Medicare beneficiaries have a choice: pick the standard Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) benefit or rely on managed care plans to supply their healthcare through the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  Many Medicare beneficiaries prefer MA because it offers them lower out-of-pocket costs and provide benefits not available in the traditional FFS Medicare program. Other beneficiaries prefer the […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Determining Population Size

How do ecologists determine the size of a population?    One method is the mark and recapture (a.k.a. capture/recapture method).  This method relies on having two separate trials to capture (either physically or in data) members of certain population and determines the population size based on the proportion of specimens who are captured in both […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Calculating zero inflation when drug costs rose from $100 to $36,000

A paper by  Claudio Lucarelli and Sean Nicholson  (2009) examines the skyrocketing cost of colorectal cancer treatment.  In 1993, the price of treating these patients with chemotherapy was only $100.  By 2005, this price had skyrocketed to $36,000.  Is this what is wrong with our health care system? The authors claim that the answer is […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Cuban Exports: Sugar, Cigars…and Cancer drugs?

Cuba is well known for its high quality cigars and sugar production, but is less well-known for its production of high quality pharmaceuticals.  According to MSNBC, “With more than 7,000 scientists dedicated to researching new drugs, Cuba has one of the most sophisticated biotech industries in the developing world. Last year the country earned $350 […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Are we winning the war on cancer?

Since the early 1980s, age-adjusted cancer mortality rates have been falling over time. Is this due to better screening, better treatment, or healthier behavioral factors? Is this progress cost-effective? Are we really winning the war on cancer? A paper by Culter (2008) tries to answer this question. First it is important to note that there […]

Read the rest of this entry »

Americans have the best cancer survival rates

On Friday I reported that the U.S. scored poorly on the Commonwealth Fund’s National Scorecard. Those in favor of universal health care are probably rejoicing. “The U.S. system is dysfunctional beyond repair and we need universal health care!” Yesterday, the Economist reported on an article in The Lancet Oncology journal which found that the U.S. […]

Read the rest of this entry »