Painkiller Death Rate Highest Among Older Adults

The rate of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers has nearly quadrupled since 1999, but new government figures show that since 2006, the rate of increase has finally slowed — except among older adults. According to a newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the rate of fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers is still highest among those ages 45 to 54, with the fastest increase in deaths over the past decade among those 55 to 64. In 2011, …

Pay Less for Your Prescription Drugs

By Nicole Duritz The dog days of August are the most likely time for Medicare Part D participants to fall into the “doughnut hole” and see their prescription costs rise. With AARP resources, you can see if you’re at risk of falling in, and find options for lowering your drug costs. The Doughnut Hole Each year, 19 percent of Medicare Part D beneficiaries fall into the doughnut hole. Once the amount of money you and your insurance company pay for …

Medicare Overpays $6.7 Billion for Patient Evaluation Services

Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much in 2010 by “inappropriately” paying claims from physicians who had submitted the wrong billing codes or no documentation at all for certain services, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although that amount was a small fraction of Medicare’s total spending of more than $525 billion in 2010, it still added up to 21 percent of what Medicare paid for all “evaluation …

Former Players Say NFL Teams Gave Pain Pills ‘Like Candy’

By Jim Litke, AP Sports Writer Former NFL lineman Jeremy Newberry says he often hobbled into the San Francisco 49ers locker room using a walking boot and crutches, then lined up behind as many as two dozen teammates for treatment – in his case, a shot of the painkiller Toradol. Ten minutes later, he sprinted onto the field to play. The toughness of pro football players is part of the league’s image, but a lawsuit filed on May 20 on …

The Surprising Risks of Antibiotics

The next time you find yourself asking for an antibiotic to treat a nasty cough or sinus infection – or accepting one when your doctor offers it - consider this: Doctors are overprescribing antibiotics and putting patients at risk, sometimes giving patients three times as many antibiotics as are warranted, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. This practice can cause harmful side effects and lead to infections that kill thousands of Americans …

The Essential Philip Seymour Hoffman

When I glanced at my e-mail alerts on Sunday and saw that Philip Seymour Hoffman, arguably the greatest film actor of his generation, had died of a probable drug overdose, I felt the same mix of sadness and anger that came over me when Whitney Houston died. Again, a performer taken way too soon… again a drug death preceded by reports that the artist was “clean and sober”…again that empty feeling of a creative resume half-filled, never to be completed. …