Why Doctors Need to Know About Military Medicine; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD


February 17, 2016

In This Article

AMA: Angry About Consumer-Targeted Drug Ads

At its most recent interim meeting, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted in favor of a ban on pharma's direct-to-consumer drug ads and adopted new policy aimed at making prescription drugs more affordable, according to a meeting announcement.[2]

Physicians say that these ads drive demand for costly drugs when less costly alternatives may be available. Prices for both generic and brand-name prescription drugs have steadily risen and experienced a 4.7% spike in 2015, according to the Altarum Institute Center for Sustainable Health Spending.[3]

The new AMA policy calls for convening a task force of physicians and launching a campaign to promote drug affordability by encouraging federal regulators to limit anticompetitive behavior (eg, monitoring mergers and acquisitions, and supporting patent reform) while encouraging innovation and market-based competition.

The move is largely symbolic, notes an article in STAT,[4] because any such ban would have to be authorized by Congress. The article goes on to explain that the genesis of physicians' disgruntlement with such advertising is that it encourages patients to seek medicines unnecessarily, and that they resent any pressure to write prescriptions lest a patient switch to another physician.

The heated response from advertising and pharma groups includes concerns about free speech and the desire to have better-informed patients with more information on drug treatment options than they're likely to receive at their doctors' offices.

Medical Homes Can Keep Kids Out of the Hospital

The most reliable indicator of children's readmission to the hospital was whether the child had a usual or routine place to receive care, according to a UCLA study published online in Pediatrics.[5] This factor was critical in determining whether the children had a "primary care medical home," along with the following: whether the child had a personal doctor or nurse; care to address family needs, as opposed to solely the child's illness; an easy time obtaining referrals to specialists; and coordinated care across specialties, providers, and systems. Of the 701 patient families surveyed, 65% missed at least one of the five criteria, and therefore did not pass the medical home litmus test.

Researchers studied patients who were hospitalized at UCLA for over 24 hours from October 2012 through January 2014 to examine the effects of the primary physician's office and the primary care medical home on readmissions. Families were contacted within 1 week of discharge and again 30 days later to ask whether the child had been to an emergency department or been readmitted to the hospital. Results showed that 22% of those with a consistent place to receive care were readmitted within 1 month, compared with just 8% who lacked that consistent place for care.

"Our findings support the notion that medical homes that can ensure a usual source for both well and sick care, and can bolster a parent's level of confidence in caring for their child at home, might be able to better help patients avoid the need to be hospitalized again shortly after discharge," coauthor Thomas Klitzner, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatric cardiology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and executive director of the UCLA Pediatric Medical Home Program, said in a study announcement.[6]


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