A recent Altarum Institute report says that healthcare spending is again on the rise. Among the contributors: drug prices, which are up 6.4% from December 2013 to December 2014. In contrast, hospital prices grew just 0.9% in 2014, according to the report.
The arbiter of all things health related, comedian John Oliver, recently did a show in which he cited a Mayo Clinic study which had these findings:
- 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug
- 50% take more than one prescription
- Over 4 billion prescription drug prescriptions are written each year
Damn, that’s a lot of drugs, and doesn’t even take into account medical marijuana or the prescription sharing that goes on in high schools, god help us.
Add to that the knowledge that less than 20% of people who are given prescriptions fully comply with them. Hard to imagine a greater prescription for waste, error and general pouring of money down the kitchen sink. It reminds me of a another comedian I once saw who said that the Arm & Hammer Baking Soda business model is the best in the world: you buy a box and the instructions are to pour the contents down the sink…which means you have to buy another box.
Anyway, the John Oliver segment on pharmaceuticals is laugh out loud funny, at least to me. Its focus is on pharmaceutical marketing to doctors and the role doctors play as middle-men/persons between pharma and the consumer. There are some hilarious bits in here, mainly the real promotional activities of companies selling products like Advair and doing so through Barbie-doll hot sales reps (fyi, a 17 minute video but well worth watching), and the use of Hooters as a part of the drug distribution chain. Not too much in the revelatory category, but an interesting walk through the world of pharma marketing nevertheless.