Kudos to our colleagues at EMD Serono for the publication of the 9th edition of the EMD Serono Specialty Digest. If you are not familiar with this annual survey, you ought to be, as it highlights managed care strategies for specialty pharmaceuticals and is an outstanding source of data.

Pharmacy Operations Manager, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Wellesley, MA

Aetna National Medical Director for Oncology Solutions

I had the recent privilege of carrying the “flags” of our school and of American Health & Drug Benefits to the enchanting island of Japan as a plenary speaker at the 113th Annual Congress of the Japanese Surgical Society. I would like to share some of my reflections on this incredibly complicated, and sometimes even paradoxical, medical culture during my 1-week whirlwind visit.

Regular readers of American Health & Drug Benefits know that I like to peruse the literature from consulting companies and industry-related think tanks. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)—Operating Performance in the Medtech Industry: Trends and Imperatives1—really caught my eye.

I have been fascinated by new technology ever since our parents took my younger brother and me to the amazing 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, NY. We especially loved the “Theatre of Tomorrow” exhibit sponsored by General Electric. I can still see the futuristic family room rotating in front of my eyes. Perhaps that is why I am always drawn to the Technology Quarterly section in the British news magazine, The Economist. It provides a broad overview of technology trends across many different industries.

According to Michael Kleinrock, Director of Research Development at the IMS Institute, breakthrough therapies, innovation in disease treatments, and changes in the consumption of medicines transformed the US healthcare market in 2011.1 At the core of this interesting report are 5 takeaway messages1:

Virtually every American hospital has a Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) committee that works hard to create and maintain the hospital formulary and track the quality and safety of medication therapy. At Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH), the P&T committee is a critically important medical staff committee with multiple subcommittees.

Well, they certainly surprised me.

For the political junkies among us, the acronym SCOTUS (otherwise known as the Supreme Court of the United States) has practically become a household word. By now, oceans of ink have been devoted to media coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 3 days of unprecedented legal hearings and speculation about the potential outcome to be announced sometime in June. My colleagues in health policy circles have been making friendly wagers, not just about what the ultimate decision will be, but how the actual vote count will fall.

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