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Morning Read: What makes a healthcare expert?

Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of healthcare: What makes a healthcare expert? The Health Care Renewal blog isn’t happy about the media portraying leaders of healthcare organizations who have no clinical experience as experts in the field of healthcare. The blog’s Dr. Roy M. Poses points to one Boston Herald […]

Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of healthcare:

What makes a healthcare expert? The Health Care Renewal blog isn’t happy about the media portraying leaders of healthcare organizations who have no clinical experience as experts in the field of healthcare. The blog’s Dr. Roy M. Poses points to one Boston Herald report that features “expert” commentary from leaders of a health system and an insurance company. “We need to ask why we have become so deferential to leaders of large (and and least heretofore prestigious) health care organizations that we treat them like true experts on biology, epidemiology, public health or medicine when they have no obvious expertise, or even knowledge in these areas?” Poses says.

Genetic testing to your doorstep: San Diego-based Pathway Genomics this week plans to begin selling at Walgreen’s a genetic testing kit that allows consumers to scan their genes for a propensity for Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, diabetes and other ailments. The over-the-counter test marks the first foray of personalized genomic medicine into the corner drugstore, but some fear it will open a Pandora’s box of confusion, privacy violations, genetic discrimination and other issues. Critics call the test “reckless” and a waste of money. Plus, Pathway could draw the wrath of the FDA, which hasn’t approved the test for sales.

Wellpoint goes on the offensive: 2010 is shaping up to be an absolutely brutal year in the court of public opinion for Indianapolis-based insurer Wellpoint. See stories about its revoking the policies of breast cancer patients and its “mathematical error” that led to a request for up to 39 percent rate hikes for some Californians.  But after Barack Obama made a veiled and critical reference to the insurer in a radio address over the weekend, Wellpoint is fighting back. CEO Angela Braly chided Obama for spreading “false information” about the company and also noted that the administration has ignored a request from Wellpoint to meet with a high-ranking official.

The Vanishing Oath: KevinMD recommends “The Vanishing Oath,” a documentary by a physician who took time off and traveled the country to speak with university economists, a malpractice attorney, medical academics, a divinity professor, plus current and former physicians about what ails our health system.

Thumbs up for Gladwell: The In the Pipeline blog approves of Malcolm Gladwell’s handling of a story on Massachusetts-baed Synta Pharmaceuticals and its attempts to get a cancer drug to market. Unfortunately, Gladwell’s article is behind a paywall, but fortunately blogger Derek Lowe’s commentary on it isn’t. “Gladwell often takes some hits from experts in the fields he writes about … but [in this article] he gets all the important stuff right–namely, just how hard a business this is, how much luck is involved, and how much we don’t know.”

Dealflow: Germany’s CureVac raises $35 million for a prostate cancer vaccine; Belgian firm Arsues makes its first foray into the U.S. with a $12 million purchase of Minnesota-based pharma supplier Gallipot.

Photo from flickr user Mai Le