Rerun: Happy 3rd birthday to the Health Business Blog

The Health Business Blog is on vacation this week and re-running some classic posts. This one is from March 2008, the third birthday of the Health Business Blog.

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The Health Business Blog is three years old, with close to 1700 posts and counting. For the first and second birthdays I picked out my favorite post by month, and I’m continuing that tradition today.

March 2007: Eye-popping generic pricing disparities

Retail prices for a 30 day supply of generic Zocor (simvastatin) ranged from $6.97 at Sam’s Club to $131.99 at Rite Aid. Can you imagine seeing price differentials like that for any other product? It would be interesting to see how things look a year later, now that Wal-Mart has made people aware of the possibility of $4 generics.

April 2007: Understanding the appeal of Mini-Meds

I’ve never been enthusiastic about mini-med plans –health plans that typically cap reimbursement at $25,000 to $50,000 per year. In some ways they are the opposite of insurance because they pay for routine expenses but not catastrophic ones. However I have to admit there is another side to the story, and I’ve come to understand the plans’ appeal to those who can’t afford traditional coverage.

May 2007: How to kill the US economy in two simple steps

I’m in favor of a liberal immigration policy on moral grounds. There’s also a strong economic argument for immigration: immigrants fill important positions in health care and other sectors of the economy (think doctors, nurses, home care aides) and foreign-born entrepreneurs are the key to our dynamic economy. Make the US hostile to immigrants and we will find ourselves in serious trouble.

June 2007: Health Wonk Review

I hosted the health policy blog carnival, featuring posts on Dr. Steven Nissen (of Avandia fame), regulation, insurance and payment policies, statistics, and that traveler with TB.

July 2007: Singapore medical tourism diaries

I went to Singapore to visit hospitals as part of my research on medical tourism. I posted a seven-part diary containing my impressions of various hospitals and my observations on the country and its people. I also launched MedTripInfo, a site devoted to medical tourism.

August 2007: Medical tourism: What questions should health plans and employers be asking?

Medical tourism has mainly been a self-pay phenomenon, but that’s changing. I enumerated 11 questions that US plans and employers should be asking about medical tourism and eventually developed a white paper to cover the topic more fully.

September 2007: AstraZeneca to outsource manufacturing: not such a no-brainer

Pharmaceutical companies seem to be catching up to the rest of the economy in outsourcing manufacturing. But there are important differences between the pharmaceutical industry and others, making outsourcing decisions considerably more complex. My partner, Pat Kager and I followed up this post with an article on the topic that will be published soon in Pharmaceutical Executive.

October 2007: The fluidity of Health 2.0 communities

Health 2.0 companies tend to get lumped together, but there’s a great deal of difference among sites. Daily Strength’s leading “huggers,” at the time of this post included people with Paranoid Personality Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Talk about user generated content! That’s a lot different from the users of PatientsLikeMe, whose focus on careful documentation of the clinical progress of patients with diseases like ALS is a much more powerful expression of Health 2.0′s potential.

November 2007: Interview with Genentech re:Avastin distribution changes

Avastin’s decision to halt distribution of Avastin to compounding pharmacies caused a big kerfuffle among ophthalmologists and retina specialists. They prefer using repackaged Avastin for $40 rather than Genentech’s nearly identical drug Lucentis for $2000. I wrote several pieces on the controversy including this interview. I’d like to see someone try a software licensing model in the pharmaceutical industry, which could resolve some of these issues (while creating new problems, which I acknowledge).

December 2007: South Korea Medical Tourism: The complete set

I spent several days in South Korea and wrote a 10-part series on the country from a medical tourism perspective. This post sums up my very positive views of the place.

January 2008: Interview with Ben Heywood, CEO of PatientsLikeMe

I spoke with the CEO of one of my favorite Health 2.0 companies, PatientsLikeMe. The site is a social network for patients with life-changing illnesses. Ben’s brother had ALS –or Lou Gehrig’s Disease– which was the impetus for the site. PatientsLikeMe has since added other conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, and HIV.

February 2008: How much should we expect from patients?

Patients are being encouraged to challenge their physicians and nurses on whether they’ve washed their hands. I know people are doing it but it seems awkward, impractical and just plain wrong to place this expectation on patients.

Gentle reader, thank you for your continued indulgence!

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