Friday media madness…

I’m doing lots of these collections of links these days as I can’t write or think much. I’m often bored laying in bed though so I still go through my routine of  scouring the news when I’m able. I can read a bit of what I look at, though certainly I rarely read a whole article, it still allows me to feel a part of things.

  • Orange Is the New Black: A Year a Women’s Prison — a Powerful Memoir by Piper Kerman | Civil Liberties | AlterNet — Despite its cheeky title, Kerman’s memoir is no breezy snapshot of her travails as an unlikely convict. It is a serious, poignant narrative about the failings of the U.S. prison system and its effects on the people who are warehoused in it — women who became her friends and allies, most of whom she would never have crossed paths with in the outside world.
  • Risks Seen in Cholesterol Drug Use in Healthy People – New York Times — With the government’s blessing, a drug giant is about to expand the market for its blockbuster cholesterol medication Crestor to a new category of customers: as a preventive measure for millions of people who do not have cholesterol problems.
  • Alison Bass: Why statins should not be prescribed to healthy people, or the difference between relative and absolute risk — In The New York Times yesterday, Duff Wilson did a great job of explaining why many medical experts question the growing use of cholesterol-lowering statins in people without heart problems. He reported on new studies showing the risks of otherwise healthy people taking statins, and he exposed the huge conflict of interest by the scientist who led the study that enabled AstraZeneca to win FDA approval for marketing its statin, Crestor, to people without heart problems.
  • Posttraumatic Growth: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence – Fable – Good Fables — Posttraumatic growth refers to a change in people that goes beyond an ability to resist and not be damaged by highly stressful circumstances; it involves a movement beyond pretrauma levels of adaption. Posttraumatic growth, then, has a quality of transformation, or a qualitative change in functioning, unlike the apparently similar concepts of resilience, sense of coherence, optimism, and hardiness..
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  • Insel and Obama Want Transparency—Let’s Oblige – Psychiatric Times by Daniel Carlat — Two events occurred last week that will have significant ramifications for psychiatry. On March 23, The Physician Payments Sunshine Act was signed into law by President Obama. The act was embedded in the larger healthcare reform package, so it didn’t receive a lot of fanfare, but it is huge. The Sunshine Act will require that all drug and device companies report all payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals. All payments will be available on the Health and Human Services website, which will publish unprecedented detail about such payments, including the precise nature of the “service” provided, the date of each check, and the name of the drug or device that a promotional talk supported. — Thus, for example, if you are on AstraZeneca’s speakers bureau, your talk won’t simply be classified as “professional education”—instead, your patients will learn that you were paid $2000 on a particular date for marketing activities in support of Seroquel. This granularity of information constitutes true transparency, as opposed to the rather opaque information provided on the physician payment registries posted voluntarily by some companies. — The second, related, event occurred the day after the Sunshine Act became law. Thomas Insel, the Chief of NIMH, published a commentary in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, entitled “Psychiatrists’ Relationships with Pharmaceutical Companies: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?” While acknowledging (as we all should) that some collaboration between physicians and pharma is a good thing, Insel concluded that industry influence has radically skewed psychiatric practice in favor of the most expensive drugs, even when evidence shows that cheaper generics work as effectively. He also bemoaned the fact that effective psychotherapeutic techniques are “woefully underused and frequently not reimbursed.” Finally he called on organized psychiatry to lead the way to reform.

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