Vol. 64 April 1, 2012 Breaking Medical News


The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday approval of the new drug, Viagrator, a combination of Viagra and Lipitor. Pfizer has been seeking lost revenues since Lipitor’s patent expired,and the demographics of the users of Viagra and Lipitor are almost identical. Combining the two into one capsule is a slam dunk. Viagrator will still carry a warning about the need to call a doctor if effects last for more than 4 hours, but new information that a double-cheese omelet can reverse it will be added.

Pfizer is searching for an appropriate celebrity to serve as a symbol of both sexual prowess and high cholesterol to promote its new product. Industry sources report that Newt Gingrich is the leading candidate, but doubt that a contract can be signed before November.


In Medicare’s quest to become more like Visa with single swipe payments, timely and understandable statements, and better fraud protection Medicare has announced its own frequent flyer reward points program. Each Medicare dollar spent on medical care will earn points for the patient that can be redeemed for other medical services. The rewards menu is quite complicated. For example, 4 MRI’s earn you enough points for a colonoscopy. Points from 6 EKGs can be redeemed for a week’s supply of Inderal or nitroglycerine. The medical device rewards catalog includes a CPAP machine after 8 visits to a pulmonologist. a walker after 2 visits to an orthopedist or 4 visits to a neurologist, and a high-seat toilet after the second hip or knee replacement.

The AMA has come out strongly against the use of Medicare reward points for travel to other countries for surgery, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has refused to participate in the rewards program at all. They are still mostly “cash up-front”. Efforts by the Obama administration to use the program as a Medicare cost-cutter by deducting points for inappropriate care (for example, after 4 visits to an ER in 6 months you would LOSE 200 points) have been rejected by Congress so far.


A new twist to the current controversy about paying for abortion and birth control pills was recently put into the other side of the intercourse equation. An enterprising group of urologists is offering a free pizza if you get a vasectomy in March. The free pizza is touted to help you recover post-operatively as you watch March Madness on the tube. I wonder what you could get for a tubal ligation? … an Easter dinner for 6?


Some Blue Cross/Blue Shield policyholders recently received a notice that in 2012 the healthcare insurer will reimburse up to $150 for fees in health fitness clubs or structured weight loss programs for its subscribers. The response was so positive that BC/BS’s initial caution quickly turned to such enthusiasm that BC/BS plans to make fitness club membership MANDATORY for its subscribers on July 1,2012.

Acturarial analysis suggested that members needing walking assistance devices, specially modified automobiles, or wheelchairs be excluded from this requirement. This suggestion was ignored when AARP pointed out that many “thousands and thousands of AARP members” used canes. Legal counsel expressed concern in today’s environment about potential law suits against this “individual mandate”. BC/BS officials dismissed the concern with “Hey, it’s not like we’re mandating that everyone eat broccoli!


Now that sexting has become prevalent, what’s next? Well, we are in a capitalistic society that rewards entrepreneurs, so you guessed it, a one-day California conference to develop apps for it. Why not unleash, and even incentivize, the most creative, innovative minds of our society to help us deal with “unmentionables”?

The call is out to….“design an app to solve the challenge of providing honest, real-time, private data from youth and young adults about “unmentionable” activities, like sexual behavior, substance use, sadness, and relationship drama to researchers and program experts who work with youth.”

The reason to do this is that…“the health field has been trying to prevent the most common adolescent and young adult health problems since time began: sexually transmitted diseases, depression, substance abuse and dating violence. By the age of 25, more than 90% of young adults will have experienced more than one of these problems, and for some youth, the consequences will be lifelong (infertility, homelessness, brain injuries, etc.).”

“It’s almost impossible to know what works in terms of prevention efforts, as health researchers rely on survey answers given by youth after the fact with questions such as: How many times did you use a condom for sex in the last six months? Now, really, who remembers?”

“We want to put the best and brightest minds in tech behind the solution. We want an app where young people are enticed and excited to share their Unmentionable data – data about the whos, whats, wheres and whens of their risk behaviors – in the moment or soon after.”

Interested? Too bad, it’s already over. March 31 in San Francisco.


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