25 August 2017

Dueling Banjos

Once again, into the data fray. This time it's not just a trivial pissing contest. Now, this is a hard data field, not some social science feud over macro policy based on fudgy sampling data. It's all about super-priced heart drugs.
Not surprisingly, each side takes issue with the other's study design and data. They question each other's assumptions about the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac events - a key figure that gets plugged into their computer simulations - and they use different thresholds for the proper value of a year's worth of "quality of life."

Well, yeah, there is a bit of social science thumb on the scale. Moreover,
There is another point of divergence in the Fonarow and Kazi studies. When they modeled cost savings from evolocumab, the former factored in productivity - the economic cost of a heart attack victim not going to work, for example. Kazi says his group's study sticks to just the medical costs saved - the hospital stay, the follow-on procedures - by avoiding a cardiac event.

One of my pet peeves with the social science use of data, the majorest, is the continued imputation of "loss of productivity" for all manner of factors. Pharma has been executing "outcomes based pricing" for a while. This is just a fancy way of saying, "my drug saves your life, so you owe me the rest of your life's earnings". I read one "estimate" that the eclipse "cost" $700 million in "lost productivity". As if public and private bureau rats not sitting at their desks for a few minutes has any impact at all. Few do anything productive, ever. A few minutes burning their corneas, on balance, prevented more London Whales from breaching than lost useful output. The one and only case of directly measurable productivity is piece work. Tender reader, you may never have heard of that. Here it is.

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