Lack of competition leads to EpiPen pricing woes

From Modern Healthcare:

A single prescription for the name-brand EpiPen—which comes in a two-injector pack—costs consumers about $535 when purchased under two major insurance plans, before a $100-off coupon available to most patients, according to sample data from Oration, a software company that helps companies and their employees reduce prescription costs. Without insurance, the device can cost as much as $574 when paid with the discount card.

Customers often buy multiple devices to have at school or work, and the devices expire which means they must be replaced every year even if they’re not used. That can feel like a waste of money to some. Some studies have suggested that the yearlong shelf life approved by the manufacturer and the Food and Drug Administration may be conservative, though the official instruction remains.

For most drugs or devices, patients might look to a competitor for a cheaper price. But Dr. Bobby Lanier, a Fort Worth, Texas-based allergist, said most of his patients end up using the name brand EpiPen rather than competitors such as Adrenaclick, which is made by Horsham, Pa.-based Amedra Pharmaceuticals.

Out-of-hospital births on the rise in U.S.

From Reuters:

Giving birth outside of a hospital has become more common in the U.S., especially for white women, with almost 60,000 out-of-hospital births in 2014, according to a new study.

“I think it speaks to some women’s growing discomfort with the standard hospital-based system of childbirth in the U.S,” said lead author Marian F. MacDorman of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Depth of heroin epidemic in Southern Illinois difficult to measure

From the Southern Illinoisian:

Many signs point to a growing heroin and prescription drug abuse problem across Southern Illinois, but it is difficult to identify its depth because the data from years past on overdoses and fatal overdoses is scarce.

Under the mandates of a new state law, efforts to track the epidemic more effectively are afoot. Supporters of the undertaking say this should allow public health officials and medical professionals to respond in a more effective way, particularly where there may be problem pockets identified in certain communities or geographic areas.

Still, improving tracking is not a simple endeavor.