Trending News Today: Hepatitis C, Diabetes Treatments Drive Drug Spending Growth

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

Speeding up the approval process for medications and devices may be one of President-elect Donald Trump’s goals suggested in his health care platform, according to The Washington Post. The health plan hints that under his administration, the drug and medical device industry may have an easier time getting their products on the market, calling for a reform on the FDA “to put greater focus on the need of patients for new and innovative medical products.” Critics of this approach argue that these efforts can chip away at the standards that have been put in place to protect patients from potentially harmful drugs, the Post reported.

Newly released data by Medicare on prescription drug costs has identified the priciest drugs in 2015, with hepatitis C treatment Harvoni accounting for $7.03 billion in total spending. According to The Wall Street Journal, the data revealed that Medicare spending on the diabetes drug Glumetza more than quadrupled since 2014 to $153 million in 2015. This spend was driven by a total price increase of 381%, and within Medicare, Glumetza prescription unit volume declined 7% over the same period, the Journal reported.

Despite the dramatic increase in the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medications in the United States, new findings suggest that the drugs are still being underused. According to the Los Angeles Times, the use of statins increased 80% between 2002 and 2013. But in a new study, researchers found that the drug was still underused, especially among the uninsured, ethnic minorities, and women.