Tag Archives: research

Research shows what it doesn't show

If you don’t have a phone, you can’t hang up on them.

Landlines have become quaint. It is almost funny to think that, here we are in 2010 and yet, some people still use those old style telephones that require wires to plug into the wall in order to work. Way back in 2004, more than 90% of households had a landline. In 2009, 25% of households were cell phone only.

Why is this a political story,” you might ask? It is against federal law* to use the automated dialers, which most pollsters use, to call cell phones. Add to that the number of households who primarily use their cell phones (cell dependent) and screen their landlines, and you begin to see a larger problem accurately projecting poll numbers.

What’s the big deal, they can still reach plenty of people with landlines,” you might ask? Sure, except the just released and updated Pew Research Center study also shows that people in cell only and cell dependent households are different than landline households – just calling more landlines won’t get the right answers.

The differences are startling. Cell only households are much younger: only 7% of younger households (under 30) have a landline and only 26% of households, ages 30-49 have a landline. They are 11% less likely to have a college degree; make less money (they are younger, duh?); half as likely to be married; three times more likely Hispanic; two-times more likely African-American; and more than twice as likely male. They also are more likely to to support Democratic candidates.

Pollsters are pretty smart and factor this in when they call, right,” you might ask? They are smart, but most surveys are conducted with automated dialing only calling landlines and the non-coverage bias is not factored. Some surveys make an attempt to compensate by dialing a sample of expensive-to-manually-call, cell phone lists (in pollster lingo, they are called, “full dual frame surveys”). According to the Pew findings even the full dual frame surveys have a real problem.

“Because the decline of landline coverage has not been uniform across demographic groups, some key subgroups in surveys based only on landlines may be severely underrepresented, making reliable estimates of attitudes or behaviors among those groups difficult or impossible to obtain. For example, respondents ages 18-29 now constitute just 7% of a typical landline sample, less than one-third of their proper proportion in the population according to the latest American Community Survey estimates (22%). The shortfall is not limited just to the very young, in part because many people maintain phone status as they age, and in part because even older adults are abandoning landline service. Consequently, the percentage of adults in their 30s and 40s represented in landline surveys now falls 12 percentage points short of the parameters (26% vs. 38%). As a result, adults 50 and older are significantly overrepresented in landline samples, comprising 66% of the average landline sample when they should be only 40% of the sample.

”The coverage issue also affects other demographic variables in addition to age. Compared with dual frame samples, landline samples yield relatively fewer cases among Hispanics, an important and growing portion of the U.S. population. Renters also are more likely to be missed by landline surveys.

Be warned next time you hear the results of some new survey, it will be wrong.

For a full copy of the Pew Research report, click here.

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*Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Survey researches are, however, allowed to call the 91+ million households who have signed up to be on the do not call lists.

The Race for the money

Pink Products

The Business of Breast Cancer

Just look at the market: one in eight American women will get it — based on current US populations, that works out to 19,337,500 potential customers. 192,370 new customers just this year who will spend the Medicare average of $31,735, or more, to treat it.

The CDC says $7 billion was spent on treatment of diagnosed breast cancer in 2007, but that number doesn’t come close to the total amounts spent on living with it or fearing you’ll get it. Eight in eight American women (154.7 million) are aware that they could be the one in eight.

Breast cancer is a multi-billion dollar business. For every positive test, someone profits. Those companies want you to survive for as long as you possibly can pay — for every death, those who profit suffer, too. Callous as that sounds, it is true.

Here are some figures to give you an idea of the scale of the efforts towards early detection and a cure:

Research Spending:

Then there are those who wish to influence your government to either find a cure, help those who suffer or pad their profits (please note: large lobby groups do not break out their spending by initiative, specific cancer, etc., but their influence is clear):

2008 Lobby Spending:

  • National Breast Cancer Coalition: $174,619
  • Medical Equipment & Supplies: $6.3 million
  • Big Pharma: $29.2 million (not breast cancer specific)
  • Insurance: $46.8 million (all companies)
  • Health Professionals: $95.2 million

In addition to hospitals, imaging centers, physicians, surgeons, radiologists, rehab centers, hotels near treatment centers, airlines, ambulances, family counselors, book publishers, vitamin firms, alternative treatment practitioners, wig, hat and pink paraphernalia stores, here are some lists of just some of those who are sucking on the money tit.

Drugs: $36.7 billion
This is a list of annual sales of drugs used to treat breast cancer. It is just a partial list and many of these drugs are also used for other diseases. It also doesn’t begin to list the drugs and the profits required to live with the pain, suffering and side effects.

  • Femara (Letrozole): $1.1 billion (Source: 2008 Novartis Annual Report)
  • Aromasin (Exemestane): $465 million (Source: 2008 Pfizer Annual Review)
  • Arimidex (Anastrozole): $1.9 billion (Source: 2008 AstraZeneca Annual Report)
  • Tamoxifen (generic): $1.1 billion, estimate (Source: 2008 AstraZeneca Annual Report)
  • Fareston (Toremifene): $2.9 million (still in testing: Source GTx, Inc. news release)
  • Evista (Raloxifene): $1.1 billion (2007 – Source: Eli Lilly press release)
  • Herceptin (Trastuzumab): $1.4 billion (Source: Genetech web site) –  note: annual treatment expense: >$100,000
  • Lapatinib (Tykerb): $162 million (recently approved: Source: 2008 GlaxoSmithKline Annual Report)
  • Ixempra (azaepothilone B): $500 million, estimated (Source: FiercePharma.com/Bristol-Myers Squibb)
  • Xeloda (Capecitabine): $1.2 billion (Source: 2008 Roche Annual Report)
  • Aredia: $21 million (Source: Healthcare Sales & Marketing Network/Barr Pharma)
  • Pamidronate (generic): $553 million, estimate (Source: AccessMyLibrary.com)
  • Paclitaxel: $1.6 billion (Source: Bristol-Myers Squibb10-K filing)
  • Adriamycin (Doxorubicin): $550 million (Source: EvalutatePharma.com)
  • Pamidronate (Darbepoetin alfa): $550 million (now generic. Source: AccessMyLibrary.com)
  • Aranesp (Darbepoetin alfa): $4.1 billion (Source: 2006 Amgen Annual Report)
  • Epogen: $2.5 billion (Source: 2006 Amgen Annual Report)
  • Procrit/Eprex: $3.3 billion (Source: EvalutatePharma.com/Johnson & Johnson)
  • Aredia (generic/Pamidronic acid): $21 million (Source: Healthcare Sales & Marketing Network/Barr Pharma)
  • Epirubicin (generic): $68 million (Source: Healthcare Sales & Marketing Network/Teva)
  • Faslodex (Fulvestrant): $250 million  (Source: 2008 AstraZeneca Annual Report)
  • Lupron, Eligard (Leuprolide): $1.8 billion (Source: Mongabay.com/Abbott)
  • Gemzar (Gemcitabine): $1.3 billion (2005 – Source: Eli Lilly press release)
  • Neulasta (Pegfilgrastim): $3 billion (Source: EvalutatePharma.com/Amgen)
  • Neupogen (Filgrastim): $300 million (Source: AccessMyLibrary.com)
  • Docetaxel (Taxotere): $2 billion (Source: MedicalNewsToday.com/Sanofi-Aventis)
  • Vinorelbine (generic/Navelbine): $26 million (Source: EvalutatePharma.com)
  • Zoladex (Goserelin Acetate): $1.1 billion (Source: EvalutatePharma.com/AstraZeneca)
  • Zometa, Zomera, Aclasta and Reclast (Zoledronate): $1.2 billion (Source: EvalutatePharma.com/Novartis)

Mammography Equipment: $610 million (US only). Source: Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
Price range: $58,000-$76,000 each. Doesn’t include CT’s, ultrasounds, new digital breast imaging equipment, or mobile devices.

Breast Implants (not just breast cancer):

  • Allergan: $310 million (source: 2008 Annual Report)
  • Mentor Corporation (Johnson & Johnson): $328.4 million (source: Bloomberg)

Miscellaneous:

  • Breast Cancer Postage Stamps: $34.5 million (since 1998)

Why Breast Cancer?

breastfeedinglargeWhy make curing breast cancer a priority when only 1% of the cases affect men? Fair question.

Irony.

Cancer of the most beautiful and natural symbol of unconditional love, the source of mother’s milk, is caused by the chemical pollution man dumped on mother earth during the last century. That’s right, man. With hubris and ignorance, driven unabashed by greed toward  innovation without regard for risk, we poisoned our wives, our children and ourselves.

The last century’s men also invented industrial poisons that have, and continue to contribute to, many other deadly cancers. I could pause now and list how the innovation also led to improvement to lives, but that is well known. I could pause now and list the toxic chemicals or cite the proof – document links follow for you to come to your own conclusions.

These self-inflected toxins are still in the water we drink, the foods we eat and the air we breathe. For the generations alive right now, it is too late to simply remove them. Just as it is too late to reverse the effects of damage to our ozone that causes skin cancer. While we owe it to earth’s future to stop and begin to undo the damage we caused, the only way to save ourselves is to find the cures.

Let me say that again, the ONLY way we can save ourselves is to find the cures.

Much good work is being done. Governments around the planet fund most of the research – by a huge margin. But, as you might suspect, most of the research funding decisions by government involves politics. In what district is the research facility? Which pharmaceutical company will profit from the research, and how much did they contribute to my campaign? Will the findings be bad for business? Does the university have a proven (code for conservative that follow private patents) approach? Did we fund it last year and did I get any grief?

This is where organizations such as Susan G. Komen Foundation come in. Funded only by contributions and non-pharma sponsors, they have invested more than a billion dollars in research and training researchers since 1982. Their decisions, under the direction of Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Dr Eric Winer and a Scientific Advisory Board, to fund research is non-political. While they support many established programs of research, they also look, and often fund, emerging research that has promise outside the mainstream. This includes smaller research programs that don’t have the political clout to gain favor in Washington. Programs that innovate in ways that don’t always involve patents lasting long enough for Wall Street.

It may well be that these boutique programs find the magic to un-do what we’ve done to ourselves. Programs that allow some of our most brilliant researchers to follow paths that may lead to the cure instead of giving in to the financial realities of entrenched research paths. Programs that sustain paths of research that would be otherwise abandoned. Programs that don’t just sustain lives, but cure cancer (there will be a story in a few days about those who profit by sustaining lives, but for marketing reasons don’t want a cure).

This is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. For those of you reading the Dew who may wonder why we care, this is why: I want my wife to live, my daughter cured and I don’t want my granddaughters poisoned. Irony. Hard to appreciate, but real. Volunteer. Donate. Care. Support. Get involved. But don’t just stand there complacent. You’ve been poisoned already.

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