Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Grabbin' Us By the Short-hairs

Hey folks! Let’s try a little quiz! I’m going to give you a list of drugs and let’s see if you can guess the diagnosis, okay?

Here are three lists:

1.)Lasix (furosemide), Coreg (Carvedilol), Vasotec (enalapril)
2) metformin, glyburide
3) zidovudine, AZT, azidothymidine, ZDV

Now take your time. Think hard about the answers…. Okay, did you guess:

1) Congestive heart failure
2) Type II diabetes
3) AIDS?

If so, you’re a winner! Way to go!

Now, imagine if every person has every drug they ever took on a single database. Imagine that every doctor in the United States could access that database to assure their patients are on the correct medication. A place where drug coverage information and a list of retail and mail-order pharmacies will be housed under one electronic roof. A place where old drugs, like prior use of psychotropics that might interact with other drugs, could be reviewed. That would be Utopia, right? I mean, fewer errors, more legible scripts generated from that database, an easy-to-update location to stay current on the latest drug information and all.

Now what would such a database be worth? Gosh, I have no idea. Certainly, it wouldn’t be worth much, right? I mean, there wouldn’t be any business potential to such a huge data warehouse, would there? After all, you don’t think an insurer might like to look at that database and you know, guess what illnesses a person has, would they?

Nah, that wouldn’t be worth much. It’d be chump change. It’s be worth so little that even IF the largest electronic prescription warehouses in the world came together to join hands it would be worth so little that the Federal Trade Commission would have to look into them for antitrust practices. Really they wouldn’t. After all it ain’t worth a dime, I mean, they say so:
The country's two largest electronic-prescription networks Tuesday announced a merger, creating a single, secure network for the exchange of digital health information.

In a cashless transaction, which closed late Monday, RxHub LLC, a joint-venture of pharmacy-benefit managers, CVS Caremark Corp., Express Scripts, Inc. and Medco Health Solutions, Inc., will combine its operations with SureScripts, a private company founded by the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The merger isn't subject to antitrust review because the fair market value of the combined entity isn't high enough, according to the companies.

The owners of RxHub and SureScripts will each retain a 50% stake in the new venture, which will initially go by the name SureScripts-RxHub, LLC, according to executives from the two companies.
Gosh, I feel so much better knowing that this merger won’t be worth much to the companies, insurers, pharmacists, and drug company marketers and that the FTC can ignore this transaction! I mean, who needs competition, right? It’s all one big lovey-dovey moment! Can't you see those executives from the SureScripts-RxHub, LLC holding hands?

And why not? Their company won’t be worth much at all (really it won't), Congress will love it, AND they'll effectively have our healthcare system and privacy by the balls.

"Kum-ba-ya, my Lord. Kum-ba-ya..."



Lisa said...

Medco isn't much into fair trade or competition anyway. They force us to buy our prescriptions from them or they don't cover them, and then they tell us which generic substitutes of the medications our doctors prescribe we can get. Kum-by-yah.

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

This is all just smoke and miorrors for creating the largest online pharmacy in thw world, with complete negotiating authority with insurers and control of the marketplace.

We could have acheived electronic consistency without merging the pharmacies themselves.

The Happy Hospitalist said...

if you put all three of those lists together on one patient, your diagnosis is lactic acidosis