Perspectives: Medicare Must Negotiate Drug Prices; Youth Opioid Rxs Risky?
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
A Pick-Me-Up For President Biden
As talks continue on what might be salvaged from President Joe Biden’s stalled tax-and-spending plan, one of its smaller pieces is worth singling out — a proposal to cut the prices Americans pay for prescription drugs. As it stands, it’s a good first stab, but Biden should press to go further. Doing so would serve the public and strengthen the president’s popular support. The existing system must strike any outside observer as absurd. U.S. pharmaceutical companies charge their domestic customers vastly more than they demand of buyers in the rest of the world. And Medicare is expressly barred from doing what foreign equivalents take for granted: using its bargaining power to get better prices. (2/4)
American Academy Of Pediatrics:
The Risk Of Suicidal Behavior In Association With Starting Youth On An Opioid Prescription: How Much Should We Worry?
Although we all want to limit the use of opioids, they can play an important role in pain management. There has been some concern that use of opioids can increase future suicidal behavior. What is known about this risk? (Lewis First, MD, MS, Editor in Chief, Pediatrics, 2/7)
We're Waging The Wrong Battle Against Opioids
Early this year, government researchers announced a grim milestone in America’s overdose crisis. Between June 2020 and June 2021, as the Covid-19 pandemic raged across the country, a record 101,263 people are believed to have died by drug overdose — nearly 21 percent more than in the previous 12 months. Sadly, overdose rates have been escalating for decades now. As recently as 1999, there were just under 17,000 annual deaths. Throughout this disaster, the news media and policymakers have typically relied on a simple narrative: The crisis was caused by the widespread over-prescription of opioids, so therefore reducing the medical supply via law enforcement will solve it. And by the supply metric alone, they’ve succeeded: Since 2011, the total amount of opioids prescribed has fallen by more than half. (Maia Szalavitz, 2/4)
The New York Times:
Pennsylvania Doctor Accused Of Prescribing Ivermectin For Covid Is Fired
A Pennsylvania doctor accused of prescribing ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19, two drugs that regulators have called not safe for treating the disease, was fired this week, a regional health system said. The doctor, Edith Behr, who worked for Tower Health, was accused of writing prescriptions for the drugs, which are not approved for the prevention or treatment of Covid, the company said. The health system said it became aware of the allegations against Dr. Behr on Wednesday. (Johnny Diaz, 2/4)
New England Journal of Medicine:
Efficacy And Safety Of Gene Therapy For β-Thalassemia
β-Thalassemia results from insufficient production of the hemoglobin subunit β-globin (β+) or from the absence of β-globin (β0). Low levels of adult hemoglobin (HbA, or α2β2) are exacerbated by excess free α-globin chains in erythroid cells, leading to dyserythropoiesis and shortening red-cell survival. Patients with transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia, the most severe clinical form of this disorder, receive repeated red-cell transfusions in order to prevent severe anemia and increase survival. However, iron overload caused by transfusions often leads to dysfunction in the heart, endocrine glands, and liver. (Emmanuel Payen, Ph.D., 2/3)