How to Cut $200 Billion in Health Care Costs

By Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News The U.S. spends $200 billion each year – about 8 percent of the nation’s health care tab – on medical care stemming from improper or unnecessary use of prescription drugs, a new report out Wednesday says. Much of those costs result from unneeded hospitalizations or doctor visits, according to the study by the IMS Health’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which provides data and other consulting services to the health care industry. Medical costs are driven …

Taxes on Social Security, Prescription Drugs, Food?

Tax reform proposals are bubbling up in a number of states across the country as elected officials look for ways to stimulate the state’s economy or revamp outdated tax codes. Sometimes, however, a key element gets lost in the debate: what’s fair. Right now, in North Carolina, state leaders are working on a variety of proposals that would force North Carolinians to pay new taxes on the things they count on most, including the basics of everyday living. One Senate …

Does Your Doctor Prescribe Too Many Risky Drugs?

Medicare’s popular prescription drug program, Part D, covers more than 35 million people and a billion prescriptions annually, but Medicare has never monitored which doctors may be overprescribing medications that are risky for older adults – namely, drugs that are disorienting, addictive or harmful. The investigative journalism group ProPublica, together with the Washington Post, has now launched a database called Prescriber Checkup, which allows users to search doctors’ names and see which ones are frequently prescribing potentially dangerous drugs, such …

Pay-for-Delay Agreements and Prescription Drug Costs

  Brand-name pharmaceutical companies can delay generic competition by paying a generic competitor to hold its competing product off the market for a certain period of time. These “pay-for-delay” agreements benefit both parties: the brand-name manufacturer can continue to charge monopoly prices, and the generic company is compensated for its inaction. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that pay-for-delay agreements cost American consumers $3.5 billion per year. The Justice Department has challenged these agreements as anti-competitive and the Supreme Court …

This Saturday: Take-Back Day for Old Drugs

America, it’s time to clean out your medicine cabinet. Those old, expired, dangerous prescription drugs that you no longer need and are wondering how to get rid of safely – and anonymously – and for free? Mark your calendars for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, for National Prescription Take-Back Day. Collection sites and times are posted at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback. This is the sixth time in three years that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has offered this event. Last year Americans …

Memo to Doctors: Why Are You Over-Drugging Seniors?

What the heck is going on with doctors in some parts of the country who prescribe risky drugs for older adults? According to an analysis of more than 6 million seniors on Medicare Advantage, more than 20 percent are prescribed at least one high-risk medication. The problem is most common in the South, among women, and in relatively poor areas, report public health researchers with Brown University. Risky medications are ones that health authorities have specifically recommended against prescribing to …