August 7, 2019

July 31, 2019

Costing genome sequencing

The complete costs of genome sequencing: a microcosting study in cancer and rare diseases from a single center in the United Kingdom

The aspirational cost of sequencing a genome is $1000, but there is little evidence to support this estimate.
How much does it cost really?
Genome sequencing costs £6841 per cancer case (comprising matched tumor and germline samples) and £7050 per rare disease case (three samples). The consumables used during sequencing are the most expensive component of testing (68–72% of the total cost).
Check all the details in this article . Data related to 2017. Genome cost: £3420



July 25, 2019

Lab tests and the value of heterogeneity and stratified decision making

Establishing the Value of Diagnostic and Prognostic Tests in Health Technology Assessment.

This paper lays out a coherent framework for the assessment of diagnostic and prognostic tests for HTA using a linked-evidence, or decision modelling, approach. It is solidly grounded on the indirect mechanism of value accrual for these health technologies that can be summarised using three interlinked components: classification (using test results to define treatment groups), choice (in terms of treatment) and outcomes. Importantly, this paper proposes a series of innovative graphical displays
aiming to better inform decision making.
The literature on the value of heterogeneity and stratified decision making directly relates to this mechanism of value accrual with diagnostic and prognostic tests. Heterogeneity is defined as the variation in outcome of a population (variability) that can at least partly be explained by some attribute of interest. Heterogeneity is valuable insofar as it allows treatment decisions to be stratified across different subgroups so as to generate gains in (net)health; but, for heterogeneity to be identified, tests need to be applied that identify the subgroup an individual patient belongs to.
A reference article on the topic, for the files.


Caravan Palace 

July 20, 2019

Living drugs

The Promise and Price of Cellular Therapies

The op-ed of The New Yorker provides a clear understanding of the development of CAR-T therapies and the birth of a new class of drugs: the "living drugs". Their implications are huge, from manufacturing to pricing. A must read or listen.






July 12, 2019

Drug development failure rate

Trends in clinical success rates and therapeutic focus

Clinical failure rates from phase I to drug launch remain at 93%.


If we look at nervous system it is the highest 97%, while the lowest failure is in anti-infectives 84%.

July 11, 2019

Promoting Healthy Behaviours

Behavioral Economics and Healthy Behaviors
Key Concepts and Current Research

A reference book on the topic that tries to put theory into practice. A work in progress.


PS. From now on, a new Telegram channel ECONSALUT will provide the list of books that appear in this blog. You may subscribe if you are interested.

July 5, 2019

Far away from blackbox medicine

Causal Inference
BIG DATA I REAL WORLD DATA EN L'ANÀLISI DE LA UTILIZACIÓ, SEGURETAT I EFECTIVITAT DE MEDICAMENTS, TECNOLOGIES I INTERVENCIONS SANITÀRIES

The main speech of a next workshop is about causal inference by Miguel Hernan. If you want to have a look at his book, you'll find it here.
Causal inference is one of the main issues that current machine learning methodologies often try to skip. Finally we do need to know the factors, the causes that produce a consequence, a disease. And for example with risk adjustment, it happens the same. The methodology has to provide a clear understanding of the factors for adjustment and weights. Otherwise it would be a blackbox.

July 4, 2019

On sufficiency

What Is Enough? Sufficiency, Justice, and Health

The capability approach is an alternative to welfarist and extra-welfarist approaches to health economic evaluations. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to put into practice. The chapter 15 of a book sheds some light on the issue.
The approach developed by us is based on an outcome called years of sufficient capability (YSC). Instead of focusing on the absolute gains of capability across a population (i.e., capability maximization), the YSC targets those who fall below a threshold level of sufficient capability, with the aim being to improve capability to sufficient levels for those who are “capability poor
These are the five capabilities of most importance:
Stability— “ability to feel settled and secure”
Attachment— “an ability to have love, friendship, and support”
Autonomy— “an ability to be independent”
Achievement— “an ability to achieve and progress in life”
Enjoyment— “an ability to experience enjoyment and pleasure”
However, at the end, the same question without easy answer:
 How to define a sufficient threshold of capability needs to be considered further. One approach would be to conduct qualitative research using participatory methods to assign a sufficient threshold for a given population.
Unfortunately the proposal of participatory methods and the measurement of capabilities is illusory, at least in my view.


July 2, 2019

Episode groupers: a crucial tool for population health management

A practical guide to episode groupers for cost-of-illness analysis in health services research

Summary of analytic components in selected episode groupers.

ProductEpisode exampleSample conceptual focusaNumber of episodesClinical settingPublic episode definitionLinked risk-adjustment approach
3M Patient-focused Episode SoftwareNot reported.• Event-based episodes per patient
• Cohort-based episodes among patients with a shared condition or characteristic
>500AllNo3M Clinical Risk Groups
Cave GrouperUrinary tract infection• Physician relative efficiency and effectiveness scores
• High-cost patient prediction
>500AllNoCCGroup MediScreen
CMS-BPCIUrinary tract infectionInpatient and post-acute care~50Inpatient, skilled nursing facility, inpatient rehabilitation facility, long-term care hospital or home health agencyYesNo
McKinsey & CompanyPerinatalPrincipal Accountable Provider>100AllYesYesb
Optum Symmetry Episode Treatment GroupsPregnancy, with delivery• Patient total cost of care by condition categories
• Provider profiling
>500AllYesOptum Symmetry Episode Risk Groups
OptumInsight Symmetry Procedure Episode GroupsRadical hysterectomy• Medical and surgical procedure cost
• Provider profiling
~200AllNoOptum Symmetry Episode Risk Groups
Prometheus AnalyticsPregnancyPotentially avoidable complications~100AllYesPrometheus Analytics risk adjustment
Medical Episode GrouperCardiac arrhythmias• Population profiling
• Provider profiling
>500AllNoDisease Staging and Diagnostic Cost Groups
Information as of January 2019 in public documentation reviewed for this article, which comprised peer-reviewed articles and Internet searches for vendor product names; sources as cited in the References list. Readers are encouraged to check those and related sources for more details and updated information on the groupers briefly summarized here.
CMS-BPCI Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ Bundled Payments for Care Improvement.
aAs highlighted in public documentation primarily from vendors; this is not an exhaustive list of conceptual orientations among profiled groupers.
bNot detailed in public documentation reviewed for this article in cited sources.

June 25, 2019

Behavioral insights

BEHAVIORAL INSIGHTS. BASIC TOOLKIT AND ETHICAL GUIDELINES FOR POLICY MAKERS

This OECD report is really helpful. It tries to provide a concret approach to behavioral insights for policy makers. It goes beyond standard nudging perspective.


June 24, 2019

Making healthcare more human

Eric Topol on making healthcare more human 

A weekly conversation that looks at the way technology is changing our economies, societies and daily lives. Hosted by John Thornhill, innovation editor at the Financial Times.


June 20, 2019

Pharma outlook

World Preview 2019,Outlook to 2024

If worldwide Total Prescription Drug Sales (2010-2024) increase 6,9% every year between 2019 to 2024 than somebody has to tell me the source to achieve such resources. This is the estimate of a report. I know, the report says worldwide, but it seems an expected revenue that it is really out of any budget, public and private. We'll see.

Prescription drug sales for 2010 through 2018 grew at a CAGR of +2.3%. This can be compared to the forecast annual CAGR of +6.9% for 2019 through 2024 with expected sales to reach $1.18trn. The growth rate for the prescription market in 2019 is forecast to be +2.0%, which depicts a decline in growth rate compared to 2018 (+5.0%). So far the industry has seen a major set-back with one of the biggest failures, aducanumab, which was discontinued in Phase 3 trials for Alzheimer’s disease.
Distrust fortune tellers. Nobody knows anything about the future.

June 19, 2019

What drives health?



"Studies that find little impact of health care on health are cross-sectional.
Studies that find a big impact are longitudinal. "
From David Cutler presentation at the conference






June 18, 2019

Resource allocation for universal coverage in healthcare

Price setting and price regulation in health care: Lessons for advancing Universal
Health Coverage

Once upon a time Joseph Newhouse said that there are no prices in healthcare. There are some forms of administered prices, tariffs and payment systems. Unfortunately current health economists forget to read some books like "Pricing the priceless", a must read.
Now a new report by WHO and OECD insists again on prices and says:
Pricing health services is a key component in purchasing the benefits package (the covered services) within the overall financing system (Evetovits, 2019). Pricing and payment methods are important instruments in purchasing that provide incentives for health care providers to deliver quality care. A second instrument is contracting, in which the conditions for the payment of services are defined, and prices can be used as signals to providers. A third is performance monitoring. Where health care providers are rewarded based on the outcomes they achieve, these payments also must be priced correctly to provide the right incentives.
Right, there are more elements in the equation than prices, but the tools for fine tunning are too open. Anyway, this report is really welcome and the cases are well described.



June 15, 2019

Who is in charge of Pharma R&D?

Emerging Biopharma’s Contribution to Innovation

From the report:
  • Emerging biopharma companies accounted for 73% of the total late-stage R&D pipeline in 2018, compared with 61% in 2008.
  • Large pharma companies have seen their share drop from 27% to 19% from 2017 to 2018.
  • The share of mid-sized and small pharma companies developing novel products has remained steady since 2003, with small pharma developing approximately 5–6% of products and mid-sized pharma developing from 2–5%.
  • Emerging biopharma companies are increasing their pipeline share, because they are the most active in the fastest-growing areas of oncology and orphan drugs, and because they increasingly can develop their innovations without the need to partner or be acquired.



June 14, 2019

The productivity and outcome of oncology pipeline

Global Oncology Trends 2019

IQVIA has released a report on current state of oncology treatments.
The 2018 launch of 15 new active substances (NASs) bring the total NAS launches since 2013 to 57 with 89 approved indications for 23 different tumor types Within the R&D oncologic pipeline, the most intense activity is for immunotherapies, with almost 450 in clinical development A total of 1,170 oncology clinical trials were initiated in 2018, an increase of 27 percent from 2017 and 68 percent from 2013 More than 700 companies across the globe have oncology drugs in late-stage development, including 626 emerging biopharma companies and 28 out of the 33 largest pharma companies
On costs in USA:
The average annual cost of new medicines continues to trend upward, although the median cost dropped $13,000 in 2018 to $149,000, and cost per product ranged between
$90,000 and over $300,000. The mean cost for new brands in 2018 was $175,578, down from $209,406 in 2017, but was above the $143,574 mean from 2012 to 2018.
Spending on cancer medicines is heavily concentrated, with the top 38 drugs accounting for 80% of total spending. Over half of cancer drugs earn more than $143.6 million in annual sales and in aggregate account for only 2.2% of oncology spending.
On value?

PS. Cancer drugs report 2018, Libro blanco terapia celular


June 13, 2019

Pharma R&D failure and success (2)

Estimation of clinical trial success rates and related parameters

The largest investigation thus far into clinical trial success rates and related parameters sheds light on the issue.
We find that the overall success rate for all drug development programs did decrease between 2005 (11.2%) and 2013 (5.2%), as anecdotal reports suggest. However, this decline reversed after 2013. The overall success rate is mainly driven by changes in POS1,2 and POS2,3. The timing of the upward trend coincides with the time period during which the FDA has been approving more novel drugs,compared to the historical mean.
Quite surprising. The accelerated approval by FDA ends with more drugs withdrawn from the market. Therefore, the probability of success is a flawed statistic. It should be adjusted according to regulator criteria.


June 12, 2019

The changing burden of disease

EVOLUCIÓN DE CARGA DE ENFERMEDAD YCOSTES ASISTENCIALES DE UNA COHORTE POBLACIONAL DURANTE 7 AÑOS

Today we've made a presentation at the Health Economics Conference. The rethoric of increasing chronic conditions requires a precise estimates and cohort analysis is the way to proceed. This is what we have done and you can check the details in p.70 of the abstracts book.


June 7, 2019

Long-term care funding mess

THE PUBLIC ECONOMICS OF LONG-TERM CARE. A SURVEY OF RECENT CONTRIBUTIONS

Everybody agree that long-term care funding is a complete mess. Ten years after enacting a law, access to services is constrained by funding restrictions and bad design of benefits. A lot of people wait for benefits until die and afterwards the family receive the approval for long-term care.
What should be done?. A recent article reviews the options.
LTC needs are increasing rapidly and neither the market nor the family seem to be able to meet such a mounting demand. Furthermore, the existing public programs are both insufficient and uncoordinated. For these reasons we advocate developing a full-fledge LTC public insurance scheme that would fulfill two objectives: assisting those who cannot count on any family assistance and do not have the financial means of purchasing LTC services and providing the middle class a program that would protect families against too costly spending
Is there enough public money to pay for this?


Obama by Kehinde Wiley 

June 6, 2019

Health microsystems as the unit of performance analysis

A comparative performance analysis of a renowned public-private partnership for health care provision in Spain between 2003 and 2015

A deep study has been released on performance of public-private partnerships in healthcare in Valencia compared to Spanish NHS. It is an:
Observational study on secondary data from virtually all hospital care episodes produced in 51integrated providers (i.e., administrative healthcare areas) and 67 hospitals, in 2003 and 2015. Alzira’s2015 performance (and its variation since 2003) was compared with all public-tenured peers in the SNHS,using 26 indicators analysing the differences in age-sex standardized rates of events or risk-adjusted mortality, severity-adjusted hospital expenditure and hospital technical efficiency
And the conclusion is:
 In this comprehensive comparative study on Alzira’s performance, this PPP has not generally outperformed public-tenured providers, although in some areas of care its developments have been outstanding.
I agree on the methodology, I can't asses the results and its conclusions because it requires data replication. What it is crucial is the clinical decision making within the health organization (the microsystem and its episodes of care), forget generalizations on public and private and focus on drivers for efficiency in each setting.

PS. Opioid Epidemic CDC data


Natalia Goncharova at Tate Modern 

May 31, 2019

Wellbeing economics: a prescription letter

A SPENDING REVIEW TO INCREASE WELLBEING
An open letter to the Chancellor

UK has setup an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics. That's great!. If there is one thing that should be on the public agenda is wellbeing. However, after reading the last report it's a little bit disappointing. The have decided 6 priorities to take into account in the spending review according to its importance on wellbeing.

  1. Health: Scaling up treatment of mental illness
  2. Education: Tackling children’s wellbeing in schools 
  3. Further Education: A proper start to working life
  4. Social care and community services: Investing in social support networks
  5. Work: Better wellbeing leads to better productivity
  6. Other priority areas
Not so easy...as they say, It's just a letter...


May 24, 2019

Cohen-Emanuel podcast

Ezekiel Emanuel on the Practice of Medicine, Policy, and Life


Ezekiel Emanuel is a reflection of his upbringing: a doctor for a father who loved to travel, a mother interested in policy and community activism, and all the competition and friendship that comes with growing up closely with two brothers. Put those together and you wouldn’t be surprised that the result is someone who has worked at both the highest levels of, medicine, policy and academia — though the intense interest in jam might surprise you.

May 17, 2019

Opioid epidemic and the need for urgent measures

Addressing Problematic Opioid Use in OECD Countries

Some months ago I explained my concerns about opioid epidemic. I said that the problem is closer than most people think. In the last five years, there has been a 45% growth in publicly funded opioid prescription  in our country. Now OCDE presents the current situation in a report that highlights where we are and what can be done. The key messages are these ones:
  • Better Prescribing: Doctors can improve their prescribing practices, for instance, through evidence-based clinical guidelines (e.g. for opioid prescription, for adequate medication-assisted therapy for OUD patients), prescribers training, surveillance of opioid prescriptions, and regulation of marketing and financial relationships with opioid manufacturers. In addition, patients and the general public can also benefit from clear educational materials and awareness interventions to enhance their opioid-related literacy and reduce stigma.
  • Better care: Including the expansion of coverage for long-term medication-assisted therapy (e.g. methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone) coupled with specialised services for infectious diseases management (e.g. HIV, hepatitis) and psychosocial interventions. Some countries have implemented interventions such as the availability of overdose reversal medications for all first responders, needle and syringe programmes, and medically supervised consumption centres.Quality of care must be improved and measured. 
  • Better approach: There can be better coordination across the health, social and criminal justice systems. Governments can consider setting up of coordinated networks among the three sectors aiming to facilitate access to integrated services for people with OUD. In addition to health services, social interventions around housing and employment support, and law enforcement uptake of a public health approach are central.
  • Better knowledge and research: Including the use of big data and impact evaluations to generate new information from different sources along with the application of advanced analytics. In addition, quality of care measurement should be enhanced in areas such as opioid prescription, OUD health care services, and patient reported indicators (e.g. PROMs, PREMs). Research and development is needed in key areas such as new pain management modalities and OUD treatments.

May 9, 2019

Genome editing: the game of biology is about to change

Hacking the Code of Life: How gene editing will rewrite our futures

The foundations of gene editing came about because a scientist in Alacant, Dr. Mojica started to find weird DNA sequences in some bacteria he was studying. After that Profs. Doudna and Charpentier and later Prof. Zhang translated initial findings into practice. Therefore it all started when a microbiologist studied the arms race between bacteria and viruses.
You'll find all these details in a book by Nessa Carey. If you want to understand in plain words what CRISPR is and what may represent for biology, then you have to read it.
The gene editing revolution is creating a technological toolkit that almost any half-decent scientist can lean into and find something useful. On the one hand, that should make us very excited. We can both solve problems and simply indulge our curiosity. But should it also make us worried? Using chisels and a mallet, Michelangelo created some of the most exquisite sculptures we have ever seen. But give the same heavy, sharp tools to someone else, and we can get a very different and much bloodier outcome.
But the same technology can also be used to alleviate human suffering, and if we are smart enough, lessen the impact that our heavy-footed species has on the only planet we know of in the entire universe that supports complex life. We cannot un-invent this technology, we probably can’t even control its spread. So what choice do we really have but to embrace it and use it well, to create a safer, more equal world for all?


May 6, 2019

Decentralisation in health services, is it worth it?

Decentralisation and performance measurement systems in health care

The main trends from the OECD survey results are:

  • Decision-making in health care tends to rest largely with the central government, which has considerable power across many aspects of the delivery of health services. More specifically, central governments are more likely to be responsible for decisions regarding the policy aspects of health care, but have less control over decisions regarding the inputs, outputs and monitoring of health care services. In most countries, sub-national governments have large responsibility for input-related matters, such as determining the outsourcing of services and deciding on the contractual status of staff. On average, local governments have little decision-making power in the health sector, but have the most responsibility with regard to decisions about health care inputs.
  • The role of the central governments in health care does not vary markedly between federal and unitary countries. However, sub-national government decision-making power tends to be higher in federal than in unitary countries. 
  • The majority of OECD countries tends to rely on centralised performance measurement systems, especially to monitor the performance of hospital providers. Systems vary markedly between countries, although some trends across countries exist, including the observation that health performance systems are generally more geared towards improving performance rather than reducing service costs. 
  • Less likely to be monitored under a specific performance framework are providers of ancillary services, retailers and other providers of medical goods, and providers of preventive care. Common reasons for the non-establishment of performance systems in these sectors, and in general, include a lack of capacity at the national level, a lack of available data and challenges to co-ordinate actors.

It is a great report, a must read. Impossible ot summarise in few words.



April 29, 2019

How much would you pay for a gene therapy?

Perspectives on Gene Therapy: Defining and Demonstrating Value to Payers

Kymriah has been included in the NHS and nobody but the regulator knows the price. Therefore, in Spain the answer to the question about the willingness to pay for gene therapy depends absolutely on a few officials in the Ministry, not so many, and they decide in a closed meeting without any transparency and outside of any legal procedure for public budgets. And nothing happens, that's great!. Unbelievably, that's it, the price is confidential and rule of law is useless in a failed state.

PS. Therefore, take note. There is no role for health economics evaluation, forget it forever.


Philip Stanton

April 25, 2019

Do sin taxes work?

The Use of Excise Taxes to Reduce Tobacco, Alcohol, and Sugary Beverage Consumption

The summary:

Of the 188 countries that reported 2016 tobacco tax and price data to the WHO, 173 levied an excise tax on manufactured cigarettes (61). Tobacco taxes have increased in many countries since the 2005 entry into force of theWHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The treaty emphasizes the effectiveness of tax and price increases in reducing tobacco use, particularly among young people.On average, cigarette excise taxes account for 32% of the price in LMICs and 48% in HICs. Many, but not all, countries tax some or all other tobacco products, generally at rates well below the rate imposed on manufactured cigarettes. 
Nearly all governments levy excise taxes on at least some alcoholic beverages. Of the
192 countries that provided data to the WHO in 2012, 155 levied an excise tax on beer, 138 on wine, and 151 on distilled spirits; alcohol sales were banned in some of the nontaxing countries (52, 62). Alcoholic beverage excise taxes appear to be relatively low, according to the limited information provided.  As with cigarette taxes, alcohol excise taxes account for a lower share of price in LMICs than in HICs (both lower, in general, than for cigarettes). Among 74 reporting countries, excise taxes as a share of retail prices ranged from a low of 0.3% in Kyrgyzstan to a high of 44.9% in Norway, with an average of 17.3%. Taxes as a percentage of price are, generally, lowest on beer and highest on distilled spirits.
In 2014,Mexico became the first country in the Americas to adopt a significant tax specifically on SSBs, a one-peso-per-liter tax that raised taxed beverage prices by about 10% (13). Since then, other countries have adopted more significant taxes to reduce SSB consumption and promote health, including several US localities, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE),Dominica, and Barbados.Most aim to raise retail prices by at least 10%, with a few resulting in more significant increases
Well, unfortunately the article explains the current status (and it helps) though the impact is much more difficult to measure.

April 24, 2019

Succesful populists: the age of elected despots

These are selected paragraphs from Martin Wolf excellent op-ed Elected despots feed off our fear and rage:

To be successful, a populist demagogue has to project belief in himself as a man of destiny. Self-obsession and even megalomania help; they may well be essential. In a compelling book, Disordered Minds, the Irish writer Ian Hughes suggests such men are narcissists or psychopaths. To a non-expert eye, they do appear deranged. How else can one sell the idea that “I alone am the people’s salvation” to oneself?

If such a leader wishes to subvert democracy, it is, alas, not that hard to do, as Harvard’s Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt argue in How Democracies Die. First, capture the referees (the judiciary, tax authorities, intelligence agencies and law enforcement). Second, sideline or eliminate political opponents and, above all, the media. Third, subvert the electoral rules. Supporting these assaults will be a fierce insistence on the illegitimacy of the opposition and the “fakeness” of information that does not align with whatever the leader finds useful to state.

People will want to trust such a leader whenever they desperately wish to believe that someone powerful is on their side in an unjust world. That is what happens when trust in the institutions and norms of a complex democracy falters. When faith in sober policymaking disappears, the charismatic figure emerges as the oldest kind of leader of all: the tribal chieftain. When things become this elementary, the difference between developing and so-called advanced democracies can well melt away. True, the latter have stronger institutions and norms and a more educated electorate. In normal circumstances, that may be enough to resist. Some argue it will remain enough. Yet, we are human. Humans adore charismatic despots; they always have.

April 19, 2019

On the effectiveness of digital health technologies

EVIDENCE STANDARDS FRAMEWORK FOR DIGITAL HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES

Every other day we here about a new health app, and new digital advances in healthcare. Too often, any innovation is considered effective without any deep analysis. Now, NICE provides a guide for this specific issue.

The economic impact of a DHT can be assessed using an appropriate analysis of the economic information collected. The type of economic analysis done should be determined by the financial consequences of adopting and implementing the DHT from a payer or commissioner perspective. The appropriate level of economic analysis depends on the type of decision needed and likely financial commitment. To reflect the range of commissioning decisions associated with DHTs, we have proposed 3 levels of economic analysis (see table 8).
Many DHTs will start at a basic economic analysis level but, with additional information and data about the technology and its comparators, a more robust economic analysis can be undertaken. The higher levels of economic analysis needed depends on the financial commitment required including, for example, the level of upfront investment, the likelihood of opportunity costs and the certainty of the realisation of the benefits.


April 17, 2019

AI in healthcare, a podcast

How A.I. Is Humanizing Healthcare with Dr. Eric Topol


Can A.I. and machine learning make healthcare more humane, loving, and passionate?

Dr. Eric Topol thinks so.

Dr. Topol (Website | Twitter) is a geneticist, medical researcher, and author of Deep Medicine. He has written over 1100 peer-reviewed articles and is one of the top most-cited medical researchers in the world.

In this episode, Chad sits down with Dr. Topol to talk about how A.I. and machine learning are putting the patient experience back at the forefront of healthcare. Dr. Topol also explains why you don’t actually own your own medical data and what steps we need to take to get it back.

April 9, 2019

A lifetime fair drug pricing system

When Is The Price Of A Drug Unjust? The Average Lifetime Earnings Standard

Is there any measure for unfair pricing in drugs?. According to Ezequiel Emanuel prices should not
"exceed 11 percent of the average American’s disposable income. This suggests that current prices for many drugs are excessive and unjust."
Why?.
Currently, average lifetime costs for health care are estimated at 31 percent of disposable income. Drugs account for 17 percent of health care expenses. A threshold for medical care as a share of disposable income that is set 10 percentage points higher than the current average amount spent on medical care (at 41 percent, or $261,907) is generous, as is a threshold for drug costs as a share of medical costs set 10 percentage points higher (at 27 percent, or $70,715) than the current share. Using these standards, the costs for all of the drugs a person takes in a lifetime should not consume more than 27 percent of medical costs, or $70,715. This constitutes 11 percent of lifetime disposable income.
He achieves this conclusion after applying these principles:
1. Complete life. The unit of analysis should not be a year or other limited time frame, but rather the impact over a whole lifetime
2. Limited resources. The just price of a drug should reserve enough resources for people to pursue valuable life activities
3. Value. There should exist a close relationship between the actual benefits of an intervention and its price
4.  Comprehensiveness. Life activities other than health matter; in considering the benefits of a treatment, we should also consider how it affects education, employment, and other valuable life activities
This article represents a deep change of perspective on drug pricing. Cost-effectiveness of individual drugs are not enough, a lifetime and societal perspective is necessary. I agree in this part, however methodological implications are huge and uncertain.


Bonnard at Tate modern right now

April 5, 2019

Personal Health Data Cooperatives

Personal Data Cooperatives – A New Data Governance Framework for Data Donation and Precision Health
The Ethics of Medical Data Donation
Given that personal data can be copied, individuals are entitled to copies of their data and individuals are the ultimate aggregators of all their personal data, citizens are elevated to new roles at the center of health research and a novel personal data economy. There, citizens, not some multinational company, control the use of and benefit from the intellectual and economic value of these data.
In a chapter of the book you'll find a description of MIDATA cooperative, a swiss case. My impression is that this is the appropriate approach. A closer initiative is SalusCoop. However, as happens in any public good, its governance is always the foremost issue.





April 1, 2019

March 30, 2019

Medicine as a data science (6)

Adapting to Artificial Intelligence: Radiologists and Pathologists as Information Specialists

While some physicians are lobbying for creating more specialties, Jah and Topol argue exactly the opposite. Radiology, pathology and in vitro diagnostics should be under the same umbrella: "the information specialists":
Because pathology and radiology have a similar past and a common destiny,
perhaps these specialties should be mergedinto a single entity, the “information specialist,” whose responsibility will not be so much to extract information from images and histology but to manage the information extracted by artificial intelligence in the clinical context of the patient.
 There may be resistance to merging 2 distinct medical specialties, each of which has unique pedagogy, tradition, accreditation,and reimbursement.However, artificial intelligence will change these diagnostic fields. The merger is a natural fusion of human talent and artificial intelligence. United, radiologists and pathologists can thrive with the rise of artificial intelligence. 
The history of automation in the broader economy has a reassuring message. Jobs are not lost; rather, roles are redefined; humans are displaced to tasks needing a human element. Radiologists and pathologists need not fear artificial intelligence but rather must adapt incrementally to artificial intelligence, retaining their own services for cognitively challenging tasks.A unified discipline, information specialists would best be able to captain artificial intelligence and guide medical information to improve patient care.
You may agree or not. Technology is breaking barriers and creating bridges. Food for thought.



Josep Segú - Brooklyn Bridge

March 27, 2019

The deep side of medicine and the gift of time

Deep Medicine

Nowadays the impact of Artificial Intelligence in Medicine is unknown. Every other day you may hear about robots and how they will replace humans. Nobody knows about it, distrust charlatans. The only thing that is real is what is already happening. Eric Topol has tried to do this in his new book Deep Medicine. But at the same time he considers that AI will let physicians humanise medicine, "the gift of time", and says:
"As machines get smarter, humans will need to evolve along a different path from machines and become more humane"
This may be Eric Topol's desire, nothing to add. My view is quite different. I'm not sure about the contribution of AI to a humanised medicine . This has to do with professionalism, not with AI. And the incentives for professionalism are plunging, while commercialism is on the rise. This is the key issue.
The remaining elements of the book are of interest to explain the current state of advances in apps and tools for clinical decision making. You'll find helpful information and a great summary of AI in medicine. However, my suggestion is that you can forget the subtitle of the book: "How artificial intelligence can make healthcare human again". It's naïve.


March 22, 2019

The Theranos contretemps as a serious scandal (2)

The DropoutPodcast by ABC Radio & ABC News Nightline

The inventor

Now you can hear the ABC radio podcast in 6 chapters on Theranos scandal. Report at The Verge. Highly recommended.






And the HBO new documentary explains all the details in 2 hours. The trailer:




March 20, 2019

#CRISPRWHO: notes on a new scandal

Open AccessOpen Access license
#CRISPRbabies: Notes on a Scandal

This week:
An advisory panel to the World Health Organization has called for the creation of a global registry to monitor gene-editing research in humans, the organization announced yesterday (March 19). The recommendations of the 18-person committee, which was established following news late last year that Chinese scientist He Jiankui had carried out human gene editing in secret, are aimed at improving transparency and responsibility in the field, the announcement says.
The panel’s advice did not go so far as to call for a moratorium on all human germline editing, unlike some other groups. Last week, a group of scientists and bioethicists from seven countries penned a commentary in Nature that argued for “a fixed period during which no clinical uses of germline editing whatsoever are allowed.” Such a moratorium would allow time for ethical and moral debate and for the agreement of an international regulatory framework, they wrote.
After the initial #CRISPRbabies scandal , we are facing a new one. The WHO pannel is asking for a registry instead of a moratorium. The battle has finished. Game over. From now on, the human being  will be affected from such decision. One of the worst decisions in the human history.