The Daily Rise: Wednesday, March 23

Why Drug Rankings Fail

In a post featured earlier this month at CancerConnect, Jonathan Wilcox, our co-founder and policy director here at Patients Rising, asked whether there are cracks in ICER’s latest report.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a Boston-based group a relatively new player in the innovation space, has called for a “value framework” to directly impact, address and, ultimately, set the prices of medications.

Price is an important factor, but we have had extensive concerns about related efforts by ASCO and NCCN to assign numerical rankings and grade formulas to address the value vs. cost issue. Even with the best of intentions, these frameworks take direct and, we think, potentially deadly aim at the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and the moral mandate for patient access to essential and appropriate treatments.

As advocates working with and for patients, we are concerned by attempts to “rank” treatments for deadly cancers in any way that either interferes with clinical decision-making by doctors or seeks to impose a mathematical formula to drive down cost and ignore inherent patient value.

This is, in our view, an “original sin” of poor public policy. If one begins with a belief that America must cut medical access costs right now and right away, patients will be the first ones hurt – every time.

We welcome any good faith effort to scientifically and clinically evaluate evidence regarding the value of both tests and treatments, and to move that evidence into action first and foremost to improve patient care.

Catch More Colds with Honey

There could be a new take on the old saying that “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” You might also catch more misdiagnoses.

According to new research published in the journal BMJ Quality, doctors are more likely to misdiagnose patients who are jerks.’s Julia Belluz looked into the findings:

“The authors found that even when the medical issues were identical, the doctors provided less accurate diagnoses when faced with disruptive patients. And the effects weren’t small. When the patients’ medical problems were complex, the doctors made 42 percent more mistakes diagnosing difficult patients compared with more agreeable ones.”

Good News, Bad News

There’s good news and bad news from Erin N. Marcus of Kaiser Health News.

The good news: Innovative treatments are helping more sickle cell patients survive.

The bad news: Care is still hard to find for adult patients.

“During the past two decades, advances in routine care have allowed many people to live into middle age and beyond,” Kaiser Health News reports. “Compared with other genetic diseases, a disproportionate number of patients with sickle cell rely on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people, but finding specialists who accept Medicaid’s lower reimbursements can be difficult. Few adult hematologists — blood disease specialists — focus on sickle cell, which is less lucrative than conditions such as leukemia.”

Send Us Your Story for National Doctors’ Day

Next Wednesday, March 30, is National Doctors’ Day. Join us in celebrating and honoring physicians who care for us.

Email us, Share on our Facebook Wall or Tweet @patientsrising with your story or nomination of an inspiration doctor who is going the extra mile to serve patients.

You’ll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.