Tag Archives: overdose

Resources for covering insurance and its role in addiction treatment

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Debora Cartagena/CDC

Health care journalists covering addiction, overdoses, and the heroin epidemic are likely to learn that the health insurance system appears to be part of the problem. That’s what Terry DeMio found on her beat in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Since January 2016, DeMio has been the Cincinnati Enquirer’s heroin epidemic reporter.

Rather than paying for the best medications for drug addicts in need, health insurers often require patients to start with the lowest-cost drugs. Then if the lowest-cost prescription fails, insurers then pay for the next highest-cost drug. Called fail-first or step therapy, this process repeats until the patient finds one that works. Meanwhile, the patient suffers or could die, DeMio said. Continue reading

FDA drug-monitoring system tricky, promising

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

Doctors Jerry Avorn and Sebastian Schneeweiss write in the New England Journal of Medicine that the Sentinel Network the FDA is working on to track and make sense of decades of detailed prescription and drug exposure data holds  promise for discovering drug interactions, but that the potential for false positives and misleading results is significant enough to make the program ineffective or dangerous if implemented improperly.

Related

Based on currently available data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 71,000 Americans under the age of 18, most of them toddlers, visited the hospital for accidental medication overdoses. Common culprits included drugs like Tylenol, Xanax, Percodan and Aspirin. The report’s authors speculate that such poisonings are on the rise because more folks are taking multiple medications at home.
(hat tip to Consumer Reports)