healthcare us

The Hidden Side of American Healthcare

One of the most common truisms in the modern world is how broken the American healthcare system is. It has been improved considerably because of Obamacare, but the system still languishes behind many other nations in terms of cost and outcomes. One of the biggest reasons for this is the American healthcare system’s focus on the profit motive. Healthcare providers have an incentive to put profits over patients. That mindset leads to a system where patients sometimes get bad results because organizations put money before them.

An Insufficient System

There are many symptoms of the flaws in American healthcare. One of the most significant symptoms is how many people are willing to go without healthcare to save themselves financially. People are apprehensive about going to the hospital because they know it will potentially lead to financial ruin if they don’t have health insurance. What’s more, doctors’ offices must manage financial components of healthcare, which acts as a distraction from providing patient care. Many physicians rely on healthcare contracting solutions to negotiate with insurance companies. These companies are a necessary service working between patients and healthcare providers. They make sure that patients never really feel the full costs of healthcare, and providers never have to show what they are charging to their patients. In doing these things, health insurance companies become the biggest problem in the healthcare system.


How Obamacare Improved Things

The Affordable Care Act was a landmark bill for reforming the healthcare system. While it did some great things, it has not done enough to alleviate the profit motive in the American healthcare system. One thing that it did well was to change the age that children could stay on their parent’s healthcare plans. That change meant a lot of college-aged kids could still get the care they needed by using their parent’s insurance plan. It also provided access to many low-income people who would not be able to get health insurance before. However, the profit motive won out, and Obamacare was not enough to make the American system better for everyone.


Why For-Profit Makes the System Flawed

Money over patients is the main reason why the American healthcare system is flawed. Drug companies have the incentive to charge as much as possible for new medication because they are more beholden to shareholders and not patients. Health insurance companies want to charge as much as possible because they know healthcare is something that people need. Finally, the hospital will charge the maximum amount of money possible to patients looking for treatment. All of these organizations, putting profit first, caused the price of healthcare to balloon to an extreme level. Patients end up dying rather than getting into debt to get the treatment they need. There are people forced to choose between getting life-saving medication and buying food. Tragedies like these are just another symptom of a flawed healthcare system.


Financial Factors Driving Decisions

Until something changes, we will continue to see this system play out in everyday life. Companies and hospitals will continue to try to make as much profit as possible without regard for what patients are going through. This burden will also keep falling to doctors who have to decide between money and lives. This will continue until the way people look at healthcare in America is fundamentally changed. When that happens, we might see a new day of lower costs and more healthcare access for everyone in American society.

Is pharma ready to respond to the climate crisis

Is pharma ready to respond to the climate crisis?

By Rich Quelch, Global Head of Marketing, Origin

Climate change is perhaps the most complex issue facing
modern society, affecting every aspect of human life including our health.

According to
a Lancet report
, spending on climate
change adaption is falling way short of the $100 billion a year commitment made
under the Paris Agreement. And of this spending, less than 4 percent is
channelled into health despite climate change threatening to undermine the last
half-century’s advances.

It’s true, there will be beneficial health impacts from
milder winters which could help to reduce the winter-time peak in deaths. Hotter
than average summers could also help to limit disease-transmitting mosquito
populations, for example.

However, scientists agree that most impacts will be adverse,
with some declaring a public health emergency…

The effect of climate change on health

There are many health implications of climate change, but
many are still little understood.

This lack of understanding is fuelling under preparedness,
with the effects becoming magnified in specific regions such as Africa, where
more than half of nations fail to meet core requirements set by International
Health Regulation.

Small changes in temperature and precipitation are already
increasing the transmission of vector and water-borne diseases like malaria,
dengue fever and cholera. We can also expect an increase in tick vectors such
as Lyme disease, flea vectors which carry diseases such as the plague, and fly
vectors which can transmit leishmaniasis.

As accelerators of global warming, many air pollutants such
as methane, black carbon and sulphate aerosols are contributing to what experts
are calling “a silent public health emergency”, resulting in an increasing
number of recorded respiratory illnesses and early deaths.

What’s more, aeroallergens are on the rise due to climatic
change, such as mould spores indoors and pollen spores during spring and summer,
which could mean respiratory conditions like asthma become more common.

Extreme weather events, such as droughts, typhoons,
hurricanes and snowstorms are also putting food supply at risk and increasing
the prevalence of malnutrition and starvation, affecting people’s ability to
fight off and recover from a range of illnesses. The effects are already being
felt across Asia, South America and Africa in regions which have historically
suffered from low incomes, poor sanitation and food shortages.

Even for those living in less-affected areas, the uncertainty
of the Earth’s future is likely to have an adverse effect on millions of
people’s mental wellbeing. So much so, the term
“eco-anxiety” has been coined
by doctors to describe
a new psychological disorder where people worry (to an extreme) about the
climate crisis.

In the words of the young climate change activist Greta
Thunberg, “I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want
you to panic”.

Pharma is both part of the problem and the solution

Pharma, as one of the largest global industries, is both part
of the problem and the solution when it comes to minimising the adverse effects
of climate change.

In fact, the pharmaceutical sector is far from green. A first-of-its-kind
study by environmental engineers
at The University of
Ontario, found the pharmaceutical industry is significantly more
emission-intensive (13 percent more) than the automotive industry despite the
sector being 28 percent smaller.

It’s not an overstatement to say that a level of opacity still
exists in big pharma which can make it difficult to see the collective impact
of the pharmaceutical supply chain on the environment.

However, there are many trailblazers in the industry who are
leading the way in changing the status quo and creating a more sustainable
pharma supply chain.

There are multiple ways pharma can help reduce their carbon
footprint and work towards an end goal of carbon neutrality.

Let’s focus on pharmaceutical waste continues to be a huge
problem. To eliminate non-biodegradable and single-use plastics from the supply
chain, more research is taking place around bio-based PET. It’s made from
ethylene derived from sugarcane which has a negative carbon footprint, using
CO2 and releasing oxygen when cultivated.

Researchers are now testing pioneering technology which
converts PET waste back into virgin grade material to be used again. Cutting
edge manufacturing methods like 3D visualisation and printing are also helping
to reduce waste by eliminating the need for multiple prototype designs.

with a hybrid partner, pharma companies can design or redesign their product’s
primary and secondary packaging to support compliance and make it easier (and
cheaper) to transport, while simultaneously reducing the amount of materials
used overall or facilitate a switch to more eco-friendly alternatives. A
virtuous circle if you will.

These cost-saving and efficiency gains
will help the industry fulfill its social responsibilities, including the need
to both pioneer more sustainable manufacturing processes and produce more
effective and safer medicines the entire world can afford.

Keeping supply chains moving is key

benefits aside, there are huge social impacts and environmental benefits of
creating a more efficient pharma supply chain and as the importance of these
issues grow, these benefits will only increase. Now, more than ever,
environmental management is key.

A pharmaceutical supply chain that’s fit
for purpose today and tomorrow is one
that’s not just reactive, but proactive. It will anticipate and accommodate
current and future trends, driving forces and challenges presented by
the climate crisis.

Whether it be a fast-developing public health emergency
caused by an extreme weather event, or a slow but steady increase in
respiratory diseases from worsening air population levels in urban populations,
the pharma industry needs to have the agility to respond quickly and support
the effective functioning of healthcare systems.

The pharma and biotech industries are no stranger to the
chaos caused by extreme weather on their research and manufacturing
capabilities. In 2017, Pfizer’s
manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico
wiped out during a devastating hurricane season, resulting in a loss of an
estimated $195 million in inventory.

Investment in sites’ resilience is key to preparing for
extreme weather in advance and patching vulnerabilities which could close
plants, such as flood barricades, emergency power generators, and keeping
critical digital infrastructure on higher floors.

Governments and regulators may start to enact policies to
force big pharma companies to geographically diversify the locations of their
production facilities, particularly for products that are lifesaving and have
no substitutes, as well as carry heavy inventory to protect against supply
chain disruption.

Keeping global supply chains moving in the aftermath of a
large-scale climate event is also vital.

To facilitate the new pharmaceutical
landscape, a fresh and agile approach is needed, one which leans towards an
all-in-one solution which isn’t restricted to one manufacturing location or
field of expertise.

Teams on the ground need to be capable
of creating any solution, to any problem, anytime, and anywhere. However, at
the moment, it’s common for multiple teams to be managing multiple
international supplier sites.

Consolidating the supply chain under one
roof brings a large range of benefits including, but not limited to: reduced
risks and overheads, greater innovation, assurance of supply and compliance,
tighter quality control and local availability via regional distribution sites
on a global scale.