Trending News Today: Studies Link Legal Marijuana with Fewer Opioid Prescriptions

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

Two new studies suggest that legalizing marijuana may help reduce the burden of the opioid epidemic, the New York Times reported. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the studies examined trends in opioid prescribing for people using Medicare and Medicaid in states with and without marijuana laws. According to the article, the researchers found that Medicare patients in states with marijuana dispensaries filled prescriptions for approximately 14% fewer daily doses of opioids than those in other states and allowing patients to use marijuana for specific medical conditions was associated with a 6% lower rate of opioid prescribing for pain.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced 2 new policies on Monday that, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, will directly lower costs for consumers, STAT reported. One change will lower the cost of biosimilar drugs for low-income patients, and another will enable Medicare beneficiaries to get access to new generic drugs more quickly, according to the article. However, CMS officials have not yet made a decision on whether rebates, as well as other fees, should go toward lowering the price that a patient pays at the pharmacy, according to the article.

Babies given antibiotics or antacids in infancy may be at an increased risk for allergies in childhood, according to the New York Times. The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that infants given H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, or antibiotics had a substantially increased risk of developing a food allergy than those who were not, according to the article. The authors indicated that both antacids and antibiotics disrupt the normal intestinal bacteria, which may explain the association.