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The “A-Fib” Marketing Blitz: Be Still My Heart

011110_1941_NortinHadle1.jpgA crosspost from UNC physician and well-known author, Dr. Nortin Hadler.  Dr. Hadler has written extensively on the interplay between health costs, marketing of new and “improved” health treatments, evidence of effectiveness, and unnecessary or even harmful medical treatment.  In this piece he goes through the choices patients with a common cardiac problem face and how those choices – and the expense and risk associated with each – are often not explained to patients.  Without full information it’s hard for patients to make a truly informed decision as they grip tightly to the medical roller coster:

 With breathtaking speed, atrial fibrillation has gone from “Huh?” to parlance. “A-fib”, a common cardiac cause of palpitations, is now in the front ranks of evils lurking to smite our well-being. There is no mystery to this transformation. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration licensed three new drugs to prevent a stroke, the fearful complication of A-fib: apixaban (Eliquis), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and dibatigatran (Pradaxa). This unleashed the full might of pharmaceutical marketing: the scientific data for efficacy that convinced the FDA is tortured till it convinced “thought leaders” whose opinions convinced influential journalists. Sales pitches populate print, broadcast and social media. A-fib is now more than a worrisome disease; it is a product line…. [Read more at Scientific American.]

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