Alzheimer’s disease breakthrough also a win for collaboration (Morning Read)

Read current medical news from today, including: revelations from the latest Alzheimer’s disease research, deconstructing flimsy pharma R&D statistics, Medicaid patients fined for being fat, are some healthcare jobs making the economy sick, and an end to phony doctor notes.

Current medical news and unique business news for anyone who cares about the healthcare industry.

What do the latest Alzheimer’s revelations mean? A new study that discovered five new genes related to Alzheimer’s got high-profile press over the weekend. Two amazing developments: there is now enough genes for Alzheimer’s so researchers could likely determine its biology. Plus, the research was only accomplished through an unprecedented level of cooperation from Alzheimer’s researchers. There’s even more cooperation to come: American and European organization will pool their information for an even larger study.

Antiobiotech innovation. The number of antibiotics are distressing low, there is government funding to develop antibiotics, and fewer than half of the 13 major pharma companies develop antiobiotic drugs.

While that kind of return on investment might not do much if you’re trying to boost the bottom line at Pfizer, it’s pretty darn good if you are Optimer or any other company with a market cap of less than $1 billion. If all goes well, the Optimer drug should offer a decent return to investors and entrepreneurs, and should help make an impact against a dangerous public health threat.

Few people in biotech seem to be paying much attention, but this is shaping up to be a story of how the industry is supposed to work.

$50 fine for being fat. I imagine the controversy over whether to hire the obese will be nothing compared to Arizona’s proposal to levy a $50 fee for Medicaid applicants who are obese and don’t try to slim down. The fine would apply to childless adults who are obese or chronically ill, as well as those who smoke. If they can’t meet the goals of a wellness plan develop by a primary-care physician they’d have to pay the money.

The modern ‘physician leader’… is doing clinical work and leadership.

Deconstructing pharma’s R&D cost. The L.A. Times not only blasts the suggestion that it costs $1.3 billion to develop a drug — the real cost: $76 million — but breaks down the opaque data used to come to that conclusion, the manipulation of the report that’s used to tout that study, and how the more realistic and, likely, accurate figure is being ignored by many policymakers.

It’s the industry’s lobbyists who have caricatured it as a finding of the “average cost to develop one new drug.” The lobbyists would have you believe that the cash cost of inventing and testing the contents of every one of those amber vials in your medicine cabinet is $1.3 billion, and consequently that any policy that cuts into drug company profits will mean less R&D and fewer lifesaving medicines.

Light and Warburton have done well to deconstruct how the drug industry contrived this all-important claim about R&D costs. Is anybody listening? When I asked Light if he’s heard any reaction from policymakers since his paper was published in February, he replied, “I’m not getting the impression that members of Congress are paying attention.”

Downside of a healthcare economy? Most healthcare jobs are subsidized by the government, which makes them part of an unsustainable government bloat: “The growth of the public sector–in terms of direct employment as well as indirect employment from financing health care delivery–is on an unsustainable path.”

Phony doctor’s notes? Dead! A USB device in Malaysia – called SickVerify – detects antibodies and cortisol in saliva to certify that they’re sick. It’s designed specifically to end sick day abuse and complicit physicians.

New embryonic stem cell line… in Michigan.