Archive | December, 2008

Express Scripts Data Breach

By now, many people have heard about the data breach that happened at Express Scripts.  They have now set up a website to provide people with information about their investigation with the FBI and are also offering support for people whose identity has been stolen.  Given their focus (like all other healthcare companies) on keeping this data secure, I can only imagine how difficult this is for them.  I know that George Paz and the executive team will be doing everything they can to try to find the root cause and help any affected clients or members.

To find out more, visit

Managing Stress

With all the turmoil in the markets and economy, I thought it made some sense to pull an article on stress management.  I have one from a physician that was in The Green Magazine in July/August 2008 that I had ripped out which seems to offer some practical hints.

  • Be realistic
  • Make yourself a priority
  • Shed the superhero suit
  • Do not look too far ahead
  • Add regular exercise to your daily to-do
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Explore prayer and meditation

Since stress can caus physical and psychological problems, these are all things we should take into account in managing our lives.  And, importantly, these are things we should pass on to our children and our team members.

Although living close to that line of being too stressed out can motivate some people, in general it is a problem.  It has been linked to lots of issues which can limit people’s productivity.

So, don’t get stressed out.  Go out for a walk.  Drink some water, and take some time to reflect on life.

Are You Prepared For Your Last Days?

Obviously this is a conversation most of us avoid. It’s a difficult conversation for many. But, from a healthcare cost perspective, it is where significant money is spent.

I have struggled with the concept of inter-mingling this conversation with a work conversation, but I think the concept on a personal level is right. Alexandra Drane and Matthew Holt have created Engage With Grace to push this conversation to the forefront by boiling it down to five simple questions. You can visit the website to learn more.


Free Heroin To Addicts In Switzerland

Maybe someone out there can explain this to me, but it makes no sense to me. The Swiss apparently have had a program since 1994 (that they just voted to make permanent) which helps addicts satisfy their craving for heroin rather than try to end their addiction.

Is this just easier? I don’t understand.

Sampling: Good or Bad?

There is a good article in the USA Today about pharmaceutical sampling with some relevant statistics. The issue at heart here is whether pharmaceutical manufacturers providing free samples to physicians is a good or bad thing.

  1. There are no generic samples (generally speaking) so this may drive more brand use than appropriate. [I say generally speaking since both Medco and Express Scripts have tried generic sampling and MedVantx offers a generic sampling automated solution to physicians where the plan pays for the samples.]
  2. Doctors may be inclined to start you on a medication because they have a sample rather than pick the best drug for you.
  3. The sampled drug may not be covered by your insurance so you may have to pay a lot out-of-pocket or change drugs after the sample supply is used.
  4. In general, samples are not tracked appropriately where most physicians could not tell you what patients received what samples.

A few of the facts from the article:

  • An estimated $16B in free drug samples were handed out in 2004.
  • More than 90% of US physicians receive free samples.
  • More than ½ of older patients report getting at least one sample per year.
  • In a study, physicians were 3x more likely to prescribe generics to uninsured patients once they lost their sample closet.
  • Several studies have shown that more samples go to insured patients than to uninsured patients where cost is a bigger issue.
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