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Diet, Surgery and Pharmacy – The Pillars of Healthcare for 500 Years

Healthcare was based on three pillars in 16th century Florence, Italy: diet, surgery, and pharmacy. Five centuries later, not much has changed in Italy or the U.S. But how healthcare gets funded and delivered in the context of these pillars significantly varies between the two countries, and impacts each nation’s health. To put this in context, visiting the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (the Medici’s Laurentian Library) today in Florence was a trip through medical-surgical history, starting in the second half of the 16th century. The design of this magnificent library’s foyer and reading room was initially conceived by Michelangelo. The reading room

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Missing My Friend Tony on World Aids Day

I’ve missed my friend Tony for the past 19 years. He was in the first generation of white gay men who died of AIDS, back in 1997. When Tony was diagnosed within months of this photo being taken, he was with full-blown AIDS. At that time, Tony had no access to the portfolio of drug therapies available to an HIV+ patient today. Those were the days of denial, experimentation, toxicity, and really, really tough side effects. If you want to know what it was like in that era under President Reagan and his politicized regime that was blind to the public

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In #Election2016, Americans Care More About the Cost of Prescription Drugs Than the ACA

“When thinking about health care priorities for the next president and Congress to address, dealing with the high price of prescription drugs tops the public’s list while issues specific to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as repealing provisions of the law or repealing the law entirely, are viewed as top priorities by fewer Americans,” according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll for October 2016 – the last such survey to be taken before the 2016 Presidential election. The poster child snapshot image representing the high cost of prescription drugs is the increase in cost for an EpiPen, which among

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The rise and rise of noncommunicable diseases

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the #1 cause of death in the world. NCDs are the yin to the yang of infectious diseases. Mortality from infectious disease has fallen as national economies have developed, while NCDs such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, and other NCDs are a growing burden. Health Affairs devotes its September 2015 issue to The Growing Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases, featuring research focusing both on global trends and U.S.-specific challenges. In their look into the relationships between NCDs, unhealthy lifestyles and country wealth, Thomas Bollyky et. al. note that NCDs aren’t only the “diseases of affluence,”

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Avoiding Wrinkles: A World Without Tobacco

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, heralded by the World Health Organization, and celebrated by the advocacy group Action on Smoking and Health (with the very appropriate acronym ASH). Smoking is one of the most addictive (anti-)health behaviors around, so persuading people to quit the habit continues to challenge public health advocates. Enter ASH’s engaging campaign called “The Wrinkler,” with the introductory question, “Ever notice how some people who are 25 look 45?” The video continues to explain how we can “expedite the aging process….Ladies, wish you were half your age? Don’t wait for him to look younger; make yourself

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Thinking about Tony on World Aids Day

I lost my dear friend Tony M. in 1987 in the first generation of deaths from the scourge of AIDS. Remembering Tony, here he is helping me get dressed on my wedding day, along with my BFF Susan. When Tony was diagnosed within months of this photo being taken, he was with full-blown AIDS. At that time, Tony had no access to the portfolio of drug therapies available to an HIV+ patient today. Those were the days of denial, experimentation, toxicity, and really, really tough side effects. We remember Tony and all our loved ones everyday and especially today, on

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Health care costs, access and Ebola – what’s on health care consumers’ minds

The top 3 urgent health problems facing the U.S. are closely tied for first place: affordable health care/health costs, access to health care, and the Ebola virus. While the first two issues ranked #1 and #2 one year ago, Ebola didn’t even register on the list of healthcare stresses in November 2013. Gallup polled U.S. adults on the biggest health issues facing Americans in early November 2014, and 1 in 6 people named Ebola as the nation’s top health problem, ahead of obesity, cancer, as well as health costs and insurance coverage. Gallup points out that at the time of

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Affordable medicine: a preferred future

The price of medicines is a barrier for about one billion people on the planet, for citizens in developing countries as well as middle-class families in the richest country in the world, the United States.  Today is World Health Day, when for 24 hours public health advocates (including me) are calling out key issues preventing people from fully living life. One obstacle for too many people is the cost of drugs and supplies that save lives and help people add life to years. For example, bug bites can be deadly if you’re talking about the 50% of the world’s population

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World AIDS Day – Remembering Tony M

Because it’s World AIDS Day, I recall an old friend who’s no longer with me especially today, every year since 1987. Meet Tony M, a dear friend who succumbed to AIDS in 1987 in the first generation of white gay men who braved the Ronald Reagan Era of the band playing on when this new disease ravaged a significant slice of a generation of creative, energetic, young people. Here are two pictures of Tony with me and friends: the first, of Tony in between my friend Susan and me, at my wedding; the second, Tony with his friend and my

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