October 6, 2008
I spent this weekend in Newport, Rhode Island to attend the Bayer Multidisciplinary Board meeting. This is a group of representatives from the community (from home care, NHF chapters, manager care, pharma, HTCs, consumers) who get together twice a year and brainstorm, share and offer opinions to the marketing team at Bayer HealthCare. Most manufacturers have these, and even some home care companies. These forums are a great way to learn what is happening in the community in an informal lieu, with intelligent and proactive individuals.
Now some of what we discussed is confidential, but the most exciting news is not confidential. It’s about the clinical studies for the longer lasting factor VIII product. The study is moving into phase II, with 250 patients from many countries participating. Patients are treated with a factor product each week in this study, but the study is double-blinded, which means that neither the physician nor the patient knows whether they are getting regular factor or the longer acting factor. This is the largest clinical study in hemophilia history, I believe. Results are promising: some day I believe we will have a factor product that can be infused once a week, but keep factor levels high the entire week, eliminating the need for three time a week infusions.
Bad News: Tomy McNulty, chief clinical officer of Novologix, a consulting firm, updated us on the payer side of the reimbursement crisis. He affirmed what we announced back in 2004: the system of reimbursement for hemophilia products has changed permanently; home care will continue to consolidate; hemophilia consumers will no longer have complete choice of product, physician or provider. Of the three, provider choice is of the least concern to the payer. In other words, you’ll use payer-designated home care X and like it. We’ve already seen two home care companies go out of business: who next?
Good news: Bayer unveiled for us a new website called “Living Beyond Hemophilia,” for teens and young patients with hemophilia to help them through their transition to adulthood. It’s an excellent site, with a career assessment form, thought provoking questions and answers) about how to prepare for a first job interview, how to prepare for college, and even internships that may be of interest. Having a 21-year-old still in college an struggling to live on his own, this is the kind of site he can go to again and again to get tips on being prepared for what life brings. Check it out http://www.livingbeyondhemophilia.com/
Great Book I Just Read: The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
I am ashamed to say I never read anything by Wilde other than his pithy quotations. (His last words on his death bed are rumored to be: “Either these curtains go, or I go.”) This is the only book he ever wrote, and it is masterpiece. Considered one of the last books of the Gothic horror age, it is also a scathing summation of upper crust British society, which in the 1800s is obsessed with appearances–the appearance of being wealthy, beautiful, talented. The book asks, and answers: What does a life of pure hedonism and egoism do to the soul?
Dorian Gray is by all accounts a stunningly handsome man, from a wealthy family, and yet innocent at heart. Noting his handsome face, an artist creates his portrait, a chillingly accurate representation. With constant adoration of it and of Dorian himself from the adult men, Dorian eventually wishes that he always look like his youthful appearance in the portrait, and never age. In a Faustian bargain, the wish is granted. Dorian remains eternally youthful, while the portrait ages, and not just ages, but mirrors the deterioration of his soul as Dorian embraces a life of extreme and callous hedonism. Just like every person with a dark secret, he hides his portrait from all eyes. But this secret eats away at his humanity. Without any physical or visible consequences of his wretched lifestyle, he continues to sample every vice there is, earning the condemnation of his friends and of society, who yet still envy him his eternal beauty! Eventually, his lifestyle impacts others deeply (there’s a murder, suicide, etc), and finally causes him to ponder what he has become. No matter how much he hides his wanton lifestyle and feelings, the portrait reflects greed, suffering, hatred, extreme consumption, lack of purpose, narcissism, and amorality. The portrait holds an iron grip on his soul. Wilde is an interesting writer: while the dialogue appears to ramble at times, and there is a lot of overt melodrama, Wilde is, after all, a playwright. It’s Wilde’s command of the English language that is pure joy: razor sharp, line after line; I found myself ingesting his richly nourishing ideas, strategically placed words and flowing prose. Four stars!