The looming epidemic of overdiagnosis

Where are the leaders in eliminating waste in health system spending?

DRUG BUST
by Alan Cassels

Lately, I’ve got overdiagnosis on my mind.

Currently, we’re living through a perceived doctor shortage in BC, a crisis affecting as many as 600,000 British Columbians. In 2010, the governing BC Liberals promised that, within five years, everyone in BC who needed a family doc would get one. They even made this promise part of electioneering in 2013. How’s that plan worked out?

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Hoodwinked by the diabetes industry

Drugs to lower blood sugars don’t do much for your health

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

• In the last five years in British Columbia, taxpayers – that would be you and I – spent over $100 million on drugs and insulins for type-2 diabetes through our Pharmacare program. In addition, people in BC probably spent another $200 million out of their own pockets and the pockets of our employer-sponsored drug plans on diabetes treatments. Add to that the costs of all the doctor’s visits and the diabetes paraphernalia – including glucose test strips, lab tests and so on to keep blood sugars monitored – and two things are clear: this is one expensive disease and it creates a huge amount of medical busywork.

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Concocted war on drug industry another Wag the Dog

BC Liberals can’t afford a real war against Pharma so they’ll fake one

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

• In the 1997 political satire film Wag the Dog, Anne Heche, playing an advisor to the US president, turns to Robert De Niro, another presidential aide and whispers, “We can’t afford a war.” De Niro waves his hand and replies confidently, “We’re going to have the ‘appearance’ of a war.”

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Proton pump inhibitors pose some very serious risks

Think twice about taking heartburn drugs

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

• Warning: this column is for people who are taking (or have been offered) heartburn drugs or are considering treatment for heartburn. In other words: most of us. If you develop heartburn or ulcers, there is a good chance you’ll be offered a prescription from the most effective – and possibly most inappropriately over-consumed – class of drugs on the planet: a proton pump inhibitors or PPIs.

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Big Data is spying on our doctors

Collected information helps sway doctors to prescribe certain drugs

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

• People often ask me if, given my research on pharmaceuticals, I could tell them why every time they go to the doctor, they always end up with another prescription. It’s impossible to answer that in a sound bite because many factors drive prescribing, including marketing, new research, patient demand, physician workloads and so on. The easy answer: it’s complicated.

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