HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Skipped Medication? Get a Text Message From Your Neglected Pill

In an experimental new system, a microchip planted in your pills will send a text message to your computer or your phone reminding you to take your medication if you forget. According to WSJ Health Blog, Novartis is testing the new system in its blood pressure medication. 

The technology has significantly improved adherence in a very small group of patients taking the company’s blood pressure medicine Diovan, a Novartis exec tells the Financial Times.

Getting patients to consistently take drugs for chronic conditions like high blood pressure can be a problem. The drugs sometimes cause side effects, and failing to take them can raise long-term risks for strokes and heart attacks without causing any immediate symptoms.

Novartis is partnering on the project with a small company called Proteus Biomedical, one of several companies mentioned in this August WSJ story that looked at the push to use wireless technology to try and keep people healthier — an effort that has also drawn big players like Qualcomm and Intel, the piece noted.

This new system raises a number of questions, including who will keep track of this information. Just individuals? Their physicians? Will volunatry participation become mandated by Medicare and Medicaid to keep overall costs lower? Will insurance companies claim access to the information by virtue of their payor status and then deny benefits for conditions that allegedly arise out of failure to follow a doctor's orders? If so, what will happen to the choice to follow or ignore a doctor's prescribed medication plan when the side effects are not worth the benefits?  


November 3, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Guidelines from DOJ for Prosecution of Medical Marijuana Use

In a change in US DOJ policy on medical marijuana use, a new set of formal federal guidelines were announced for U.S. Attorneys in the 14 states that authorize medical marijuana use. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I drugs are those that lack a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. This statutory bar ignores over whelming scientific evidence that Cannabis can provide significant medical benefits. This scientific evidence has been the impetus for states to pass laws allowing medical marijuana use that directly conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act. As reported by the AP, the new policy sidesteps some of this state-federal conflict by advising that prosecutors

should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.


November 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)