Fair pay or bone scam?

Tons of great health reporting in today’s Globe, not all of it on the health page. See stories on brain cells, osteoporosis testing, skanky diet pills and vitamin D.

BHN takes particular note of the bone scan story and wonders — Will politics and science ever find common ground? At this point, it is becoming more and more clear that more scans — be they mammograms, MRIs or test for bone density — do not equal better health.  The message, it seems, is not getting through to heavily lobbied lawmakers

“You have to view these things through common sense. And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that providing bone density tests for elderly Americans will save this country billions of dollars,’’ said Berkley. “In addition to saving taxpayers money, it will prevent suffering that people with osteoporosis have.’’

Berkley and the key Senate sponsor, Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, who was a pivotal vote in the Senate in favor of health reform, have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from medical industry sources, including physicians, as have many other lawmakers.

Among the lobbyists working on behalf of several corporations on the effort was a former top staffer to Lincoln, Drew Goesl, who was listed on public disclosure records as being among the people at Washington lobbying firm Capitol Counsel who worked on the issue.

Goesl did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Lincoln said neither campaign contributions nor Goesl’s involvement played any role in her position.

For more on bone scans, see my piece on an alternative test, which ran in the Globe in ’08.

Some doctors believe the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool, or FRAX, will improve their ability to identify patients likely to suffer the worst consequence of osteoporosis – broken bones.

For another perspective, see the National Women’s Health Network’s page  on osteoporosis.  NWHN is one of the few patient advocacy groups that does not take industry money.

On the other hand, the National Osteoporosis Foundation courts industry sponsors including:   

The Alliance for Better Bone Health  which “was formed by Procter & Gamble and Aventis in May 1997 to develop and market Actonel collaboratively in Europe, the United States and Canada.”

Medtronic

Hologic, Inc.

GE Healthcare Lunar

Now you may return to the story on Vitamin D, which also offers news on bone health.

Finally, note that Newton’s Heywoods – the family that developed its own ALS research incubator in response to a brother’s struggle with the illness — makes the news once again. A story in the NYTimes about online patient communities features “PatientsLikeMe” a patient support site that also collects data for research.

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