Medicare Itemizes Its $103 Billion Drug Bill

The federal government popped the cap off drug spending on April 30, detailing doctor-by-doctor and drug-by-drug how Medicare and its beneficiaries spent $103 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2013. The data show that 14 drugs cost the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries more than $1 billion each, accounting for nearly a quarter of Medicare prescription drug spending in 2013. Most of those drugs are used to treat chronic conditions that plague the elderly, including diabetes, depression, high cholesterol and blood pressure, …

New FDA Warning About Testosterone and Aging Men

The Food and Drug Administration has a message for older men: Just because your testosterone level has dipped as you age doesn’t mean you need to take testosterone replacement drugs. In fact, the drugs could increase your risk of heart problems. In a new statement, the agency warned about overuse of the popular “low T” drugs to relieve symptoms in men who have low testosterone “for no apparent reason other than aging.” The FDA cautioned doctors about prescribing the medications inappropriately …

Are We Treating Depression When We Should Be Treating Hearing Loss?

Could we be prescribing antidepressants to those who really need a hearing test? A large-scale study published last April based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2010 found a significant correlation between hearing loss and depression, confirming some smaller studies and also anecdotal evidence. What was most interesting was that the link was found only in certain populations. There was no relationship between hearing loss and depression in people who were either culturally deaf or functionally deaf. There was no …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, wrote about the same characters in an earlier book, which will be published in 2015. (Learn more at AARP) 2. Some common medications might be connected with a higher risk of dementia. (Learn more at AARP) 3. “Light” jogging helps you live longer, while running strenuously might not be better than no exercise at all. (Learn more at Discovery) 4. People over 65 might need a little less sleep than …

A Cure for Hearing Loss?

En español | All you boomers who listened to too much rock ’n’ roll may eventually get back your hearing by popping a pill. Researchers are closing in on a way to reverse sensorineural loss, the most common cause of hearing loss. Just as important, pharmaceutical companies are putting big money into the effort. Garnering the most publicity so far is a clinical trial of an injectable drug backed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. Given that 48 million Americans have some degree of …

Why Are Some Generic-Drug Prices Soaring?

Inexpensive generic drugs have helped millions of Americans save money on brand-name medication, but lately soaring prices on some longtime generics are prompting investigations into this pricing U-turn by pharmaceutical companies. In addition, a a new AARP drug-pricing report shows retail prices for brand-name prescription drugs continue to increase. The debate over some generic price hikes has spurred the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging to hold a hearing to review pricing on a dozen generics, and the Department …