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Letter from the Editor: AMA Internet Guidelines, Medicare Cuts, Benfluorex

Nov 28, 2010
 

Steve and I have been involved with the internet for over 10 years providing information to medical professionals. There have been a lot of changes in the way information is disseminated over this time period. More importantly, instant content and contact services like Yahoo IM, Facebook and Twitter have increased the online presence of all of us and these information sharing methods serve in the same way as “word of mouth” advertising worked years ago. On the plus side this means that we can reach more patients and potential clients more efficiently but it can also mean that a disparaging or untrue remark can instantly reach thousands of people.

To help physicians meet the challenges of creating an online presence while maintaining a proper patient-physician relationship, the AMA has developed a new policy to follow. Please read this week’s Item #3 and learn what Mary Anne McCaffree, MD, of the AMA encourages you to do if you are planning on creating an online presence.

It looks like the members of Congress are going to agree long enough during this lame duck session to continue the postponement of the 23% decrease in reimbursement for Medicare services. This will be the 5th time this year they have postponed the pay cut. I wonder how much all these postponements have cost the taxpayers in paper, time and legal fees.

Maybe the FDA has some history to go by with all their recent interest in possible cardiovascular complications of medications. It seems that in France there has been a diabetes drug benfluorex (Mediator) on the market since 1979 that is now blamed for over 500 deaths and 3,500 hospitalizations for valvular heart disease. Since 2000, a growing body of research has examined the cardiotoxicity of norfenfluramine, a metabolite of both dexfenfluramine (Isomeride, Servier) and benfluorex. Despite monitoring by the French national drug safety authorities since 1990, it was not until 2009 that a team led by Dr. Irène Frachon (University Hospital of Brest, France) convinced French authorities to remove benfluorex from the market, well after other European countries.

Last week we had a survey about shared medical visits and 82% of you indicated that if you knew how to do them you would be interested in starting them in your office. We will begin delivering information for you on how to make shared medical visits work in your office in our Diabetes Clinical Mastery Series newsletter starting after the New Year.

Announcements:

dLife.com: November 28, 7PM ET on CNBC

Topics: Actress, comedienne, and “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd talks candidly about her diabetes life. Plus, Jim Turner examines the wild world of competitive eating. Special Guest: Sherri Shepherd. Sundays on CNBC at 7 PM ET, 6 PM CT, and 4 PM PT. Catch up on dLife.com.

Please answer this week’s poll (in the right-hand column): Is Dental Care Education part of the discussion with your patients with diabetes and prediabetes?

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Check out this week’s “Test Your Diabetes Knowledge” question!

Dave Joffe, Editor-in-chief