Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
Despite efforts to reduce the number of opioid painkillers prescribed, the average number per person has nearly tripled since 1999 in the United States. According to The Los Angeles Times, a CDC report indicated that although prescription rates dropped nationwide between 2010 and 2015, their availably increased. For the study, US counties were sorted based on the average amount of opioids prescribed per person and measured in morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs). The findings showed that patients residing in counties with the top 25% of MMEs were prescribed more than 6 times as many pain medications compared with patients in counties with the lowest prescribing MMEs. Counties in the top quartile were largely rural areas where most patients are white, low-income, and have poor health, according to the report.
A generic-drug trade group filed a lawsuit against Maryland in an attempt to block a new price-gouging law that will take effect in October, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Association for Accessible Medicines requested an injunction to block the law, arguing that it is unconstitutional. The law aims to hinder steep price increases for generic drugs by giving Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh authorization to sue companies and seek civil penalties of $10,000 per violation, according to the WSJ.
Rural America has higher rates of cancer deaths than urban areas, according to The Washington Post. Although cancer mortality rates have dropped nationwide, a new CDC report found a significant gap between urban and rural areas. Findings showed that rural areas had higher rates of new cancer cases and deaths related to tobacco use, such as lung and laryngeal cancers. Higher rates were also seen among cancers that can be prevented by screening, such as cervical and colorectal cancers, according to the report.