Service of What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You: Essential Facts Relating to Health, Yours and the Country’s

December 18th, 2017

Categories: Generic Drugs, Health, Health Insurance, Medical Care, Medicine, Pharmaceutical

Donna Hammaker, Esq & Dr. Thomas M. Knadig, EdD

Did you know that:

  • Congress defines what “equivalent” means when it comes to generic drugs and that the therapeutic effectiveness of a generic might actually be half as that of the brand according to this definition? More below.
  • About 1/10th of the U.S. population has no health insurance; most of them are earning middleclass incomes and the lack of coverage causes two deaths every hour?

I learned this at an eye-opening program of the Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society of Greater New York [HPRMS]. Nancie Steinberg, president, introduced the speakers Donna K. Hammaker, Esq. and Dr. Thomas M. Knadig, EdD, who addressed representatives of some of New York City’s most prestigious hospitals and health organizations and the marketers and PR professionals who counsel them.

While some of what I heard was shocking, the takeaway as a consumer was nothing new: When it comes to your health, be informed and ask questions.

About the reference to generic drugs above, Hammaker said you could not pay her to take generic drugs from India or Israel. She mentioned “brand generics” by Novartis and Pfizer that seemed to pass muster.

The speakers, on the faculty of Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, and authors of three textbooks for students and health care managers, the most recent of which is Health Care Management and the Law, shared data-driven facts and statistics gathered in the last two years.

Laced in the discussion were factoids about the Affordable Care Act, such as that much of it was first addressed during the Nixon administration and that many people are unaware of what’s in it. Healthcare has been Hammaker’s professional focus as a lawyer and yet even she was surprised by bits that she learned by studying it. [One wonders how many lawmakers are still in the dark and yet they call for changes.]


A caveat: I’ve posted sound bytes throughout this post. On just one of these topics alone, Clinical Trials, Hammaker gives a three hour lecture in which she addresses the differences between brand and generic drugs. There is similar backup in her latest 830 page book and hours-long lectures relating to her other contentions and conclusions. For example in Health Care Management and the Law the authors reference court decisions relating to the use of reprocessed medical devices which, in the interest of brevity, I don’t go into here.

Following are just a few highlights based on a list the authors handed out and subsequent discussion.


  • “Reprocessed medical devices are a cause for concern, as the FDA standards are not always strictly adhered to, patients are not necessarily informed they are receiving a reprocessed device, and such devices are often obtained from unregulated sources, such as the Internet.” Hammaker recommended that before undergoing a procedure that a patient specify on the hospital consent form that he/she wants a new device as well as the name of the manufacturer of the device. She explained, for example, that some hip replacement devices are made of cheaper metals that tend to break. In addition, she reported, the FDA is lifting restrictions in this area.
  • Photo:

    “Over 60 percent of the yearly $1.9 trillion employers spend on health care costs go toward treating tobacco-related illnesses.” We learned that it is legal for an employer to refuse employment to a smoker. In addition, an employer can charge current employees who smoke more for insurance; force them to take smoking cessation classes as a term of employment and conduct random tests [of hair] to identify smokers.

  • “Estimates indicate 90 million people in the US live with a preventable chronic disease [such as diabetes and hypertension often caused by such factors as smoking and obesity], the ongoing care for which amounts to 75 percent of the annual $3.3 trillion health care budget.” As health insurers are no longer covering illnesses and disease that could have been prevented, Hammaker asked, “Is this a direction we want to take?”
  • “While the biggest burdens to the U.S. health care system are depression and gun violence, they receive scant attention in the health care reform debates; yet the cost of gun violence in the US is equal to the cost of smoking, obesity and other preventable health care illnesses combined. Estimates of civilian gun ownership have been as high as 330 million vs. the U.S. military and law enforcement that possess approximately 4 million guns. The nation’s risk pools absorb $1.4 billion yearly to cover anticipated costs of treating victims of fatal firearm assaults.”

There are a lot of hot topics here and no doubt people who disagree with some conclusions. [We know people who suffer from a disease–chronic Lyme–that many physicians and insurance companies don’t recognize.] Were you surprised by any of this information? Are you more assertive in dealing with your health issues and those of family members today than you were in the past? Are you concerned that information like this is not readily available making it hard to protect yourself appropriately?


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6 Responses to “Service of What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You: Essential Facts Relating to Health, Yours and the Country’s”

  1. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Concerned for sure! A friend already had 1 hip replaced 2x due to a defective part (product recall)

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When money is all that matters, and there are few if any restrictions about the conduct of companies on the one hand and insurance companies that want to pay only for the cheapest things on the other with concerns about consumers the last thing on anybody’s mind, this is what happenes. Unfortunately, folks who don’t need insurance and can afford the very best can’t understand the impact and trauma of this approach. I am so sorry for your friend.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Should one have faith in a drug peddling medical world, where prescribed opiates flow like the Euphrates and addicts eventually flock to the local heroin dealer to lessen their ruinous cost? While it’s a fact that what one doesn’t know may cause harm, who knows who is telling the truth vs. who is out to sell exotic and often life threatening products at victim’s (patient’s) expense?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t answer your questions. I think that this post highlights a fact that has been true for quite a while: You’re on your own so fingers crossed you are dealing with legit surgeons, hospitals and doctors. In halcyon days of yore, that may have existed for only a few, when the number of specialists was a fraction of those today, a family knew the doctor’s family, the doctor made home visits and a patient’s health–not statistics required of doctors and hospitals today–was his/her first concern.

    A surgeon who operated on my husband ruined his statistics one month by keeping Homer in the hospital a few days longer than the prescribed number. Thank goodness for doctors like him. As a result Homer wasn’t subjected to rushed trips back and forth from home to the hospital to address an emergency that occurred as a result of a hasty dismissal, as I’ve heard happened to others–with in one case, the worst outcome you can imagine.

  5. Lucan Said:

    To answer your question:

    I did know in general about what I believed were the dimensions of our current medical crisis, but largely by hearsay and without supporting authorities. The situation is much worse than I had thought.

    Twenty-five years ago I came to know one of my doctors, a kind and caring specialist, quite well. We often discussed the inevitability of the collapse of any healthcare delivery system based upon the mandate of the Hippocratic oath — the best possible medicine and care for all. He believed that the rate of speed at which technology was developing cures (and perhaps creating new diseases at the same time) would soon bankrupt the system. His solution to the cure crisis was capitalism. Everyone should receive the level of care that he or she could afford. Charity, public or private, could provide for the poor and indigent.

    Just last week, another of my doctors, a dentist whom I have known for years, opined that our problem is universal and not restricted to medicine. That the rapidity with which we are creating new technology is rapidly outpacing our ability to master it and provide for the consequences of its use. In other words: We may be creating new medicine, but are we educating our doctors and administrators in anything but how to press buttons skillfully at high speeds?

    A good example of this would be our current president: An admittedly uneducated man, he reputedly is capable of tweeting, but incapable of absorbing even the information contained in a one page briefing memorandum, let alone telling the truth.

    Thank you.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    So much of what we do is in a flash, with little thought. Much of what we do does not impact lives. I get the feeling, today, that doctors and hospitals under such stress to move things along and cut costs, must be frustrated and exhausted by it all. The patient comes in for a broken arm and even though a doctor might notice a dangerous rash on a hand, will he/she take time to address that?

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