Just when you thought tobacco companies had hit their heads on the ceilings of bad public relations moves, think again.
A recent study commissioned by Philip Morris concluded that while sick smokers soak up billions in healthcare costs, dead smokers save the government money.
Researchers from the firm Arthur D. Little International found that the Czech Republic government saved $30 million in 1999 when it didn't have to pay for care for smokers who had died. The study found that financial benefits such as cigarette taxes outweighed healthcare costs, lost working days and fires caused by cigarettes. Additionally, the Czech government received value-added taxes totaling $89 million.
Officials at Philip Morris' European headquarters scrambled quickly to put a better face on it.
"We deeply regret any impression that premature death of smokers could represent a benefit for society," they told the Associated Press.
Added senior Vice President Steven Parrish: "To say it's totally inappropriate is an understatement."
Well, that certainly makes everything better.
Tongue twister. All the good names must be taken. That, or the spellchecker is broken.
Those are the only plausible explanations we could think of for the moniker bestowed upon a new joint venture between managed care powerhouse Humana and Navigy, an e-business subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida: Availity.
Availity, based in Jacksonville, Fla., will provide a Web site for about 15,000 Florida physicians affiliated with Humana and the Florida Blues to obtain eligibility and benefits information about patients, submit claims, and process referrals and treatment authorizations online. The Web portal should be up and running by fall.
Good, because people might need that long to figure out what the heck "Availity" means.
The old college try. The Association of American Medical Colleges thought it was streamlining the admissions process when it decided to require students to submit their applications entirely on the Internet.
So much for progress.
The application process historically begins in May, but computer glitches and a power failure at AAMC's Washington headquarters prevented anyone from applying before June 21.
The AAMC's American Medical College Application Service, a clearinghouse for first-round applications, first identified "performance issues" with its Web site during testing in early May, according to Pam Cranston, the AAMC's associate vice president. So technicians added a second server to boost computing power.
Things were fine for more than a month, until the system, as Cranston describes it, "went berzerko." Heavy traffic from more than 27,000 early filers slowed the Web site to a crawl. So AMCAS went to four servers in late June.
But the bugs remained. Crashes, long waiting times and payment problems kept programmers busy for weeks.
All of a sudden the post office doesn't seem so antiquated, does it?
Greenbacks, not ham. The Queen City Physicians Group in Cincinnati recently set up a new company, called Physician Access Management, to schedule meetings between doctors and pharmaceutical sales representatives and to pool money paid for the physicians' time into a common fund, according to a report in theCincinnati Business Courier.
The idea is to show that the doctors' time is valuable and, ostensibly, to cut down on "dine-and-dash" events that have shaded drug marketing.
The Courier reports that shortly before Easter, drugmakers Alza and UCB Pharma had an event called "Ham and Scram" at a Honey Baked Ham retail outlet. Physicians were invited to "save time this busy holiday season."
We'd like to propose a response, with apologies to the late Theodor Geisel:
Would you like it from a rep? Would you like it for the pep?
I do not like to dine and dash. I do not like to take the cash.
I do not like to gas and go. I do not like it, no, no, no.
I would not like it from UCB. I would not like it in a tree.
I would not, could not, in my lab. I would not, could not, in a cab.
Not for the nurse, not for the purse.
I do not like it here and there, I do not like it ANYWHERE.
I do not like the ham-and-scram. I do not like it, what a sham!