Entering a brave new world | August 2, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - August 2, 2013

Entering a brave new world

Genomics aims to move medicine from 'diagnose and treat' to 'predict and prevent'

by Rebecca Wallace

As the director of the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, Michael Snyder was already a believer in improving people's health by analyzing their genomes. On April 11, 2011, he became a member of the choir.

This story contains 2821 words.

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Arts and Entertainment Editor Rebecca Wallace can be emailed at rwallace@paweekly.com.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

> That's when he got the official word that he had type-2 diabetes. He might never have spotted the condition so early, except that he'd had his own genome sequenced, and he and his lab members had discovered that he had a genetic predisposition.

This almost made me laugh ... the agricultural and food service business in this country gives us thousands of times higher probability than genetic predispositions ... the model of medicine we get in this country is to push things that are making money for people ... until, and even after we have total proof that it is killing us. Cigarettes highlighted this model decades ago.

Fellow Palo Altans and Americans, this is simply not working for the greater majority of us, and that number keeps increasing. Why is America the only developed country that does not have a national health care system? As we head farther down this road and misanthropic profiteers see and shape the system it merely turns into a kind of sardonic social-darwinesque machine.

Genetics is most certainly one of the most powerful technologies of the future, but forecasting type-2 diabetes ... come on.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2013 at 8:39 am

> Why is America the only developed country that
> does not have a national health care system?

And why does American need a nationalized health care system? Is it your premise that there are no diseases, or other maladies, to be suffered by people living in these other developed countries? (BTW—care to name them?)

Why not answer the following question: Would organizations like Stanford be free to investigate whatever it wants to investigate (like genomics, as in the case of this article) in a system that is fully nationalized—meaning funded by Washington, directed by Washington? The idea that universities would be free to pursue their own research directions, or pharmaceutical companies free to develop the drugs that they want seems unlikely after a collapse of the free market health system—being replaced by Obamacare, and it’s successor programs—which will only be more draconian that what is being promised now.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Joe, more useful medicine and technology is developed in those countries that have universal health care systems than in the US. Maybe that is a good reason we should have it here too. Maybe it is a state of mind ... clearly not yours, a goal to have a fair, just society where we invest in our people ... really teach them how to think so they will not be led astray by some of the vapid arguments they might hear on some message boards that invoke slogans and deliberate misinterpretations -- by the way I did not say "nationalized", I said national health care system as in universal for all their people. Another reason would be that American is dead last in health care outcomes while we pump the most into our system.

What is developed here in the US typically are drugs to follow the drugs whose patents are about to expire so profits can be maintained. Not that it's bad to maintain profits which probably be your next inane disingenuous question, but profits by gaming the system are really not so great.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 8:37 am

> more useful medicine and technology is developed in those
> countries that have universal health care systems than in the US.

Really? By what authority do you make such claims?

Perhaps you could help us understand you claim? In what countries were the following pioneered?

1) Heart transplants?
2) Joint replacements
3) Polio Vaccines developed?
4) MRI Machines developed?
5) Human Genome sequenced?
6) Watson-based Medical Diagnostic software?
7) Surgical Robotics (Da Vinci, for instance)

Please answer these questions, and then, if you will, rebut the premise that American technology, and the private sector, has produced these tools for the medical profession, and that thousands of lives are saved, or enhanced, by this technology, every year.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

> by the way I did not say "nationalized", I said national health care

And what makes you believe that a "national health care system" will not end up being "nationalized" within a short period of time. You also did not answer the question about providing us with a list of "industrialized countries" that have non-private sector systems that are superior to the US.

Please, educate us.

Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 8, 2013 at 8:16 am

Most of this discussion has become distorted by failing to differentiate between national Single Payer schemes like France or Canada, or regulated insurance company schemes like Switzerland, or Socialized systems like the US VA hospitals or the British National Health. Only the last fail to have mixed care delivery systems. Further, in the US many well regarded centers of excellence are organized as non-profits and many private care facilities were built with public funding.

France and Switzerland spend around 12% GDP on health care. For their money they get Universal Care, more choice, usually no employer involvement, and years longer life expectancies than the US (ref, CIA World Factbook online or the OECD site). The US spends, pre-Obamacare, 17 1/2% GDP. That extraordinary number is not any market allocation, it's bought in Pay-To-Play Washington. It grows inexorably without commensurate results. Is there a limit? Between medical care overall and the financial sector, the US is spending roughly 1/4 GDP, again bought in Washington and unsustainable.

Republican schemes of shedding substantial numbers of people from medical care or the notion that ideally people die in net worth order would not fix the problem but only destabilize the society. The US Pay-To-Play political system is the real source of this problem and many others.

Switzerland's mostly private insurance scheme might seem more politically workable in the US than France's Single Payer but clearly if the US could have something like the Swiss scheme it would already. With the institutionalized corruption of Pay-To-Play Washington and the state capitols, a Founding Flaw, we cannot. In the long run a Single Payer scheme here is most likely, perhaps like Canada's with a bit more money.

Both France and Switzerland have private pharma and other medical market corporations. There is no reason to think they will ever be nationalized. Actually, even the UK does as well.

The Bay area's life expectancy as related in a recent DJ Mercury story is up there with the Northern EU. California's overall is 80.4 as is New York State's last I looked. In fact, it is the Confederate culture area and bordering states that bring down US life expectancy to the lowest of Western developed countries (ref above). There is a county in Mississippi where the present male life expectancy is between 66 and 67, well below some developing countries. The Confederate culture area states are heavily supported economically by Blue State and Texas money with the core area the most dependent - far more than Greece is on the EU.

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