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BackPage Online, June 2019

doi: 10.1097/01.BACK.0000559861.68721.57
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Prominent Hospitals Picking the Pockets of Patients With Unproven Stem Cell Therapies?

A recent article at Kaiser Health News by Liz Szabo suggested that prominent US hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle are marketing unproven stem cell therapies to patients seeking care for arthritis, back pain, and other common symptoms and diseases. “Hospitals say they are providing options to patients who have exhausted standard treatments. But critics suggest the hospitals are exploiting desperate patients and profiting from trendy but unproven treatments,” according to the article. And the reason that hospitals are offering these services is that they appear to be growing profit centers. The FDA has the responsibility for regulating this area of medicine but thus far is only going after the worst stem cell offenders. Here is a link to the article:

https://khn.org/news/elite-hospitals-plunge-into-unproven-stem-cell-treatments/

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New Osteoporosis Drug: Innovation, Promise, and Hype

Most osteoporosis medications attempt to prevent osteoporotic fractures by limiting further bone loss rather than through building new bone. Amgen recently developed a novel medication called romosozumab (brand name Evenity) that promises to build bone. The FDA approved the new drug in April for women at elevated risk of osteoporotic fractures. It will carry a warning that it raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. Here is a link to an enthusiastic article from the New York Times by Gina Kolata:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/09/health/osteoporosis-evenity-bone-amgen.html

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Medicine Still Stuck in the Dark Ages Communication-Wise

“Modern” medicine is still mired in outmoded communication methods. Most doctors and other healthcare providers still only see patients via face-to-face appointments. A few will consider taking the occasional phone call. And a tiny minority will engage in email communications with patients—or their medical colleagues. By forcing patients to show up in person for even the most minor complaints, the medical system is wasting millions of patient hours in terms of missing work, commuting to medical facilities, and sitting in offices. However, there are signs of some minor progress in this area: doctors who will communicate with patients via email and text; and primary care providers who will communicate with specialists about the need for patient referrals via services such as eConsults. Here is a link to an article by a conscientious physician explaining the advantages of email communications with patients—from WBUR in Boston:

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2019/03/22/doctor-texts-hipaa-clement-bottino

And here is a link to an article about eConsults from economist Austin Frakt in the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/18/upshot/when-email-comes-to-the-doctors-office-wait-times-decrease.html

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