Literally invested in healthcare reform
A raft of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle with direct influence over healthcare reform own substantial holdings in the industry, the Washington Post reports.
Some 30 lawmakers, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, hold stakes in companies that in turn have a stake in how the reform shakes out. Here’s a partial list:
Sen. Harry Reid, (D-Nev.): At least $50,000 in a major health-care index
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): At least $5.2 million in companies including Merck and Eli Lilly, co-owned with wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Sen. Judd Gregg, (R-N.H.): Between $254,000 and $560,000 worth of stock in companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.): Family holdings of at least $3.2 million in more than 20 firms
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.): Wife Jackie Clegg Dodd received more than $200,000 in salary and stock last year for serving on the boards of four healthcare companies
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.): At least $180,000 in more than 20 firms
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.): At least $165,000 in drug and medical stocks
Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho): $16,879 worth of stock in companies including St. Jude Medical
As the Post notes, it isn’t illegal for lawmakers to own pieces of companies their votes and influence could affect (and many of these stakes are only small portions of their investment portfolios).
Markey looks to increase access to clinical trials
Although he wasn’t named the Post article, Mass. Rep. Ed Markey is making other news. He’s the co-sponsor, along with Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) of a new bill aimed at allowing patients with rare diseases to join clinical trails without losing their government benefits.
The “Improve Access to Clinical Trials Act” would allow people who receive Supplemental Security Income to participate in clinical trials without losing their medical benefits (current law makes them ineligible if they join a trial).
The hope is to expand the limited pool of patients with rare diseases for recruitment into trials, particularly for diseases such as cystic fibrosis. There are more than 30 treatments in development for the disease, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, but only 30,000 Americans have the illness.
The explosion of the Swine Flu pandemic took manufacturers by surprise, exposing flaws in the supply chain for vaccines, facemasks and other medical devices crucial to containing outbreaks, according to The Boston Globe.
That could be a huge problem if the H1N1 influenza virus mutates into a deadlier strain when it makes a second pass during flu season this fall.
“We really didn’t have a good handle on how much commercial supplies were out there, who had them, how rapidly were they being drawn down, and how to blend the public and private stockpiles so there would be no disruption of service,” Assn. of State and Territorial Health Officials chief program officer James Blumenstock told the Globe. “We have identified different shortcomings, gaps, weaknesses, possibly flawed or off-target planning assumptions that need to be inventoried and effectively addressed over the next several months.”
Let’s hope the “just-in-time” logistics model lives up to its name.
Open-access “journal” flunks fake submission test
The Globe also reports that a pair of clever researchers had a fake paper accepted by an online open-access “journal.”
Bentham Science Publishers Ltd., publisher of The Open Information Science Journal, accepted without comment a paper submitted by New England Journal of Medicine editor Kent Anderson and Cornell PhD candidate Philip Davis that contained paragraphs like this one:
“In this section, we discuss existing research into red-black trees, vacuum tubes, and courseware . On a similar note, recent work by Takahashi suggests a methodology for providing robust modalities, but does not offer an implementation .”
The duo generated the fake paper, “Deconstructing Access Points,” using a computer program that creates nonsensical but scientific-sounding gobbledygook and sent it in as a submission from the “Center for Research in Applied Phrenology.”
Looks like Bentham Science Publishers will be taking some lumps of its own.