Trending News Today: Drug Price Hikes Impacting All Areas of Care

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

Increasing drug costs have affected many in the health care landscape, and a new report reveals that hospitals are getting slammed as well, reported Kaiser Health News. The report was conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), which found that from 2013 to 2015, inpatient drug spend increased by 23.4% annually, compared with 9.9% annual increases on retail drug spending during the same period. Furthermore, the spending was driven by increases in drug unit prices, rather than increases in the volume of drugs used, Kaiser reported. Chip Kahn, CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, stated that it would be a different story if the increases were associated with clear and important clinical improvements, but they are not. According to researchers, the price hikes that drive the spending increases appear to be random and inconsistent, and about half of the price hikes in the report occurred in drugs with no generic competitors.

To help combat the increasing obesity epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to impose a tax on sugary drinks. According to The New York Times, the WHO stated that this tax would raise the cost of sugary beverages 20%, and would result in a proportionate reduction in their consumption. Since 1980, obesity has more than doubled, with about a half-billion adults who were obese in 2014. Although the WHO has recommended such a tax before, a recent report this year quantified the effects of a sugary drink tax. The agency convened a panel of experts in mid-2015, who produced the numbers after an extensive review of scientific literature, reported the Times. In the United States, the tax has been controversial, with the food industry fighting them. In New York, a soda tax was denied in the courts, while other regions have been successful in carrying out these policies.

The Virginia Department of Health will be distributing 80,000 drug disposal kits designed to provide residents with a safe way to get rid of unused prescription opioids, reported The Washington Post. To use these kits, individuals add warm tap water to them. The kit then deactivates the pills, allowing them to be thrown away safely in the trash. According to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, the kits can destroy up to 45 pills each. Approximately 50,000 of the kits will be distributed statewide, while the remaining 30,000 kits will be given to local hospitals, pharmacies, nonprofits, and law enforcement agencies. The kits were donated by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, and Herring believes that they will help make homes and families in Virginia safer, according to the report.