Medicine

Expert Voices

Next-gen pacemakers could use heartbeats as a power source

Implanted Pacemaker seen on a frontal chest x-ray.
An implanted pacemaker seen on a frontal chest X-ray. Photo: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Engineers at Dartmouth University have developed a new method to charge implanted cardiac devices with energy derived from the motion of heartbeats.

Why it matters: A major challenge in medical implant design is reducing device size without sacrificing the battery power and energy needed to sustain biological functions. Because the Dartmouth method enables charging upon use, it may allow for a smaller-sized battery and more comfortable designs that don't carry the risk of surgical complications from replacement.

When pharma companies send checks to patients

A gloved hand holds a dozen pills.
Drug companies sometimes directly pay patients to get their medication. Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

Brand-name pharmaceutical companies occasionally send checks to commercially insured patients with the goal of getting those people to keep taking their high-priced drugs, Kaiser Health News reports.

Why it matters: The industry says this is simply a direct form of "patient assistance," which also includes things like copay coupons. However, critics see these practices as a form of kickback, and they're outlawed in Medicare and Medicaid because they induce people to stay on drugs that have seen staggering price increases.

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