18-23 Segment 1: Tackling High Drug Prices

RHJ 18-23 A

 

High prescription drug costs are a problem that most Americans deal with. In response to this, President Donald Trump announced last month that his administration is introducing a 50-point plan to cut drug prices. Dr. David Hyman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and co-author of Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Healthcare, talks through some of the major points of the plan and how effective they could truly be in the long run.

Two important parts of the plan are an attempt to ease the entry of generic drugs into the market and to make their prices more flexible. Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, says branded drug companies must stop the “gamesmanship” that slows the creation of a competitive, free market for drugs. And, getting more drugs into “part D” allows Medicare to negotiate for lower prices through pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs).

But, the PBMs bring a problem of their own into the industry. President Trump says that these middlemen have been part of the problem by stopping the distribution of rebates and discounts to consumers and pocketing the money themselves, which also leads to artificially high list prices for drugs. Dr. Hyman says that PBMs are still important to the industry, because they structure the pharmaceutical market, but the plan will hopefully help to create a fairer market.

Another potentially influential part of the plan, announced by Alex Azar, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, will be to require drug companies to announce the list prices of drugs in their advertisements in the interest of transparency.

In his book, Dr. Hyman introduces several points that he believes would be beneficial in helping Americans pay less for drugs, although these points are not in President Trump’s recent plan. He suggests that allowing Americans to import generic drugs from foreign markets would help solve the generic drug price hikes. Dr. Hyman also stressed that high insurance costs are the biggest driver of high costs for prescription drugs.

For more information about the plan to lower drug prices or about our guests, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Dr. David Hyman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and co-author of Overcharged: Why Americans Pay Too Much for Healthcare
  • Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services

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18-23 Segment 2: The “Baseball Rule”

RHJ 18-23 B

 

In the midst of baseball season, an estimated 1,500 fans will go home from a major league baseball game each year with an unwanted souvenir – an injury from a foul ball. But, due to the “baseball rule,” which protects teams from liability for these injuries, the spectators will be unable to press charges. Eldon Ham, sports attorney and faculty member of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Nathaniel Grow, Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, explain the risks of injury and the laws that go along with them at baseball games.

In 1912, the “baseball rule” established that as long as teams take minimal precautions, like netting behind the home plate, then they cannot be held responsible for any injuries. In fact, fans attend baseball games at their own risk and are supposedly capable of assessing that risk for themselves. But, over the years, as the players get more skilled and the pitching speeds get faster, fans are left with mere seconds to react to a flying bat, foul ball, or home run headed for them at speeds as high as 100 miles per hour.

The rules may be changing though, as this year all 30 major league teams have extended the netting on their fields. There’s also an exception to the rule, which states that if a fan is distracted, as often happens at games, then the team can be held responsible. Meanwhile, fans are encouraged to keep their heads up while the baseball is flying at the game.

For more information about the “baseball rule” and safety at baseball games, see the links below.

Guests:

  • Eldon Ham, sports attorney and faculty member at Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Nathaniel Grow, Associate Professor of Business Law and Ethics at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

Links for more information:

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Medical Notes 18-23

 

Medical Notes this week…

Polycystic ovary syndrome affects up to 1 in 5 women yet the cause has been a mystery.  Now researchers think they may have found it and it may all start before a woman is even born.  A study on mice in the journal Nature Medicine finds that when female fetuses are exposed to too much of what’s called anti-mullerian hormone in the womb it sets up a cascade of events that occur after puberty.  Researchers say the hormone triggers brain cells to overproduce testosterone, a hallmark of polycystic ovary syndrome. Researchers were able to reverse PCOS with an IVF hormone regulating drug.

Yet another study carries a strong implication that playing tackle football at a young age is especially dangerous for brain health.  The study in the Annals of Neurology finds that people who began tackle football before age 12 experience cognitive, behavior, and mood symptoms an average of 13 years earlier than those who started playing at age 12 or later.  Cognitive and mood problems came about 2 and a half years sooner for every year under age 12 a person started to play.

And finally, scientists may have finally come up with an antidote for hangovers. Researchers at UCLA say they’ve developed a combination of 3 enzymes normally found in the liver that cut the blood alcohol level of inebriated mice by 45 percent in four hours compared to mice that didn’t receive the enzymes.  Scientists say the enzymes could also help prevent alcohol poisoning.  Human tests could be as little as a year away. 

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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