• What is “Step Therapy” and Why Should We Care?

    What is step therapy and how is it affecting cancer patients?What in the world is “step therapy”? Maybe a new type of fitness routine? Unfortunately, it’s nothing of the kind. And this benign sounding term can sometimes mean bad news for cancer patients and others who need newer, but often more costly, medications that have been prescribed by their doctors.

    This February, I joined a group of advocates for meetings at our state legislature here in Virginia. One of the major issues on our agenda was the need for reform of the practice of step therapy, which has increased significantly across the country in recent years with the rising prices of prescription drugs.  Continue reading

  • Review of “The Gene: An Intimate History” by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Review of 'The Gene: An Intimate History' by Siddhartha MukherjeeI’ve been looking forward to reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s latest book, “The Gene: An Intimate History”, since it was published last year.

    His Pulitzer prize-winning “The Emperor of All Maladies” is one of the most interesting and informative books about cancer that I’ve read. In addition, now that genome sequencing and other forms of genetic testing are becoming more accessible and more common, I hoped this new book would provide some insights about where we are in all of this and what we might realistically expect from more expansive genetic testing in the years to come.

    The implications of what has been learned about the gene and what it means for future generations are very personal for Mukherjee, as he reveals in sharing the stories of several family members who have been affected by mental illness. He comes back to these stories and how they relate to our growing understanding of the biology of inherited disease risk at various times in the book. Continue reading