Although I am rapidly moving towards near-full retirement, there are some days / weeks when I can’t help but point out some of the disturbing health care news that I see. This is one of those weeks.
First, the COVID zombie news
My local Star Tribune newspaper ran this front page story: The University of Minnesota, Mayo, reports on success in fighting COVID with anti-aging therapy. Fight COVID in mice, that is, it was revealed in the second paragraph:
Survival was increased in mice with COVID-like diseases when they were given drugs that killed senescent cells, sometimes called “retired” or “zombie” cells that no longer divide or grow, but persist in the body.
Mythology describes a zombie as something that you think is dead, but is not. The news about zombie health care has not died. This story is based on interesting research on mice, but it is still research on mice, not front page news in my opinion, unless it has a large circulation in the rodent population.
Second, the news about Alzheimer’s zombies
Many observers are surprised that the FDA approved the drug aducanumab for Alzheimer’s disease, after no member of an FDA advisory committee voted to recommend approval. Conflicting studies did not answer questions about the evidence. The proposed cost for this low-evidence drug could bankrupt Medicare. Many news organizations have done a very good job of highlighting the issues. However, I keep seeing stories like these:
These stories lie deep in dreck’s daily rhythm of health care news. Run away from him; there’s zombie life oozing out of that garbage. Will not die.
Third, conflict of interest zombie health news
The Washington Post presents another of his “Chasing Cancer” events funded by the pharmaceutical industry. This is sponsored by AstraZeneca, in exchange for which the Post gives the sponsor time in the program:
A segment presented by AstraZeneca will feature its executive vice president of the oncology business unit, Dave Fredrickson, in conversation with Leigh M. Boehmer, PharmD, BCOP, medical director of the Association of Community Cancer Centers.
I wrote about this Post practice last year. Abstract:
Notably, over the past four years, The Washington Post has hosted several “Chasing Cancer” online events, with the support of at least five other pharmaceutical companies active in the cancer drug market: Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Genentech, Takeda, and Tesaro.
It is not the job of journalism to associate with sponsors. Ethical concerns arise when news organizations accept sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies that they cover regularly.
So the zombie of conflicting health care news lives on, too.
And so my occasional post isn’t dead either, as long as fodder like the one above fuels my flames.
Thanks To You