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Record Spending and Other Top Medical News

Record Spending and Other Top Medical News

  • In 2014, spending on medicine in the United States increased at the highest rate since 2001, climbing by 13% from 2013. Americans filled 4.3 billion prescriptions and spent close to $374 billion. In states that expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, patients filled 25.4% more prescriptions than in 2013; in states that did not expand eligibility, the rate was 2.8%. Doctors’ office visits decreased by 3% and dispensed prescriptions increased 2.1%. Specialty drugs and innovative medicines accounted for a large part of the spending; specialty medicines made up one-third of medication spending. Because the impact of patent expirations was lower in 2014, the decrease in costs was smaller than decreases in other years. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics provided the data. More information, here.
  • Patients (aged 18-65) interviewed by phone after ED visits for acute pain asked for better communication from physicians about pain management and risks of opioid dependence. Themes around opioids included fear of dependence, addiction; belief that taking opioids as prescribed would prevent addiction; that media and non-physicians are main sources of information about opioids; the balance required between patient’s medication needs and safe opioid prescribing. Regarding patient-provider communication about pain management patients want to be involved in decisions about treatment; better communication about the cause of the pain; greater empathy from providers on the impact of pain on their lives. Bottom line: “Deliver information clearly, then listen so that I leave knowing what’s wrong, what my pain management options are, and knowing my treatment preferences were understood.”
  • American Heart Association (AHA) released new recommendations to address gaps in common standards around comprehensive workplace wellness programs (CWWPs). Recommendations improve design, measurement, recognition of CWWPs and could help improve the cardiovascular (CV) health of the workforce. AHA’s Life’s Simple 7™ measures of health provide concrete steps to help prevent CV disease: 1. Stop smoking 2. Get active 3. Lose weight 4. Eat better 5. Manage blood pressure 6. Control cholesterol 7. Reduce blood sugar. More information, here.
  • Chronic lung disease is more prevalent and associated with a higher mortality rate for Americans than for citizens in other nations. To raise awareness about lung health, the American Lung Association identified top public health issues that affect lung health: 1. Smoking 2. Secondhand smoke 3. Outdoor air pollution and climate change 4. Indoor air quality 5. Obesity epidemic 6. Missed opportunities for disease prevention, including vaccinations. More information, here.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a public statement calling for disclosure of results from clinical trials for medical products, whatever the result. The goal is to ensure that decisions related to the safety and efficacy of vaccines, drugs, and medical devices for use by populations are supported by the best available evidence. “Our intention is to promote the sharing of scientific knowledge in order to advance public health,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation. “Failure to publicly disclose trial results engenders misinformation, leading to skewed priorities for both R&D and public health interventions,” said Dr Kieny. More information, here.
  • • Spending on medicine in the United States last year increased at the highest rate since 2001. • Emergency department patients have misperceptions about opioid dependence and want more information about their pain management options. • New American Heart Association recommendations address gaps in common standards around comprehensive workplace wellness programs. • Chronic lung disease is more prevalent and associated with a higher mortality rate in the United States than in other countries. • The World Health Organization has called for disclosure of results from clinical trials for medical products, whatever the result.

We have collected details from top stories in the news this week including: Record medical spending ($374 billion in 2014); opioid confusion in the ED (patients believe opioids taken as prescribed won't cause addiction); workplace heart health recommendations (employers are being urged to participate more fully in programs to reduce cardiovascular diseaese); lung health issues (American mortality from lung disease is higher than in many other nations); medical research transparency advocated (WHO says show all trial results, good and bad).

The slides above highlight key facts and figures from studies and other reports that made headlines this week.


Sources and additional information

Drug Spending  Hits Record Pace

Patients Confused About Opioid Addiction

AHA Heart Recommendations for Workplace Wellness

Top Issues That Affect Lung Health

Medical Research Goal: More Transparency



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