Trending News Today: Consumers Fail to Shop for Lowest Drug Prices

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

More than a dozen websites and apps allow consumers to search for the lowest possible prices for their prescription drugs, yet a majority of people do not seek out lower drug costs. According to The New York Times, studies have shown that more than 1 in 5 prescriptions in the United States are unfilled, partly because of financial burdens. Despite this, a survey by Consumer Reports found that only 17% of people are willing to check multiple pharmacies for lower drug prices. “Patients want to see a pharmacy that says ‘every-day low prices,’ but most pharmacies can't achieve that because the way prices are configured is pure mayhem,” Darius Lakdawalla, health economist at the University of Southern California, said in the report. “That's why consumers need to know: ‘Where can I get my beta blocker for the best price?’”

Yesterday, the California state Senate approved a bill that requires drug manufacturers to give purchasers 60 days’ notice if their product’s cost is going to be increased by more than 10%, reported the Los Angeles Times. The goal of Sen. Ed Hernández (D-West Covina) bill is to help combat increasing prescription drug costs and will also require drug makers to provide notice if a new drug will cost $10,000 or more annually or during the course of treatment. “Shining a light for the first time is having the greatest impact on our healthcare system,” Hernández said in the report. “Members, this is not price control. This is transparency.” Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Murrieta) added, “Reduced profits will lead to less innovation with fewer lifesaving remedies.”

On Wednesday, Pasadena health officials announced that 16 patients at Huntington Hospital were infected with a dangerous bacteria from medical scopes from January 2013 to August 2015, reported the Los Angeles Times. To date, 11 of the infected patients have now died, but health officials said that only 1 of the 11 death certificates listed the bacteria as the cause of death and it remains unclear if the infection was a factor in any of the other deaths. Many of the infected patients were severely ill, with several who suffered from cancer. The report from the investigation blamed both the design of the scope and the hospital for lapses in infection control.