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Morning Rounds Megan Thielking

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Overdose deaths are soaring among women over 30

Drug overdose deaths among women ages 30 to 64 are soaring, according to a new CDC analysis of data from 1999 to 2017. Here's a look at the findings: 

  • The drug data: The rate of drug overdose deaths involving any opioid rose 492 percent during that time. Deaths involving heroin rose 915 percent; benzodiazepines 830 percent; cocaine 285 percent; and antidepressants 176 percent. 
  • The age breakdown: Overdose deaths climbed most dramatically — nearly 500 percent — among women ages 55 to 64. In 2017, overdose deaths rates were highest among women ages 50 to 54.
  • The takeaway: "Overdose deaths continue to be unacceptably high, and targeted efforts are needed to reduce the number of deaths in this evolving epidemic, including those among middle-aged women," the authors write. 

People traveling to Pakistan at risk of drug-resistant typhoid fever

Health officials say anyone traveling to Pakistan is at risk of developing drug-resistant typhoid fever. From 2016 to 2018, 29 U.S. patients who had recently been to Pakistan were diagnosed with typhoid fever, which can cause a range of severe symptoms and is treated with antibiotics. Five of those patients were children who developed an extremely drug-resistant — and therefore, extremely difficult to treat — form of the fever. The CDC is concerned that the strain of typhoid involved in Pakistan's outbreak might become resistant to azithromycin, the only oral antibiotic that treats it. Health officials say anyone traveling to Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh should visit a doctor or a travel clinic at least two weeks before their trip to talk about precautions to protect against typhoid.

They pitched a research integrity conference — but might have plagiarized their material

Plagiarism can turn up in all sorts of places — even the abstracts for a conference on research integrity. The organizers of the World Conference on Research Integrity received 430 abstracts for the meeting and checked all of them for copied text after a peer reviewer raised a red flag about one. Writing in Retraction Watch, the organizers say they turned up 12 suspected cases of plagiarism and other instances of suspected self-plagiarism. When they demanded an explanation from the 12 suspected of plagiarism, half didn't respond, one withdrew the abstract, and one blamed staff. The most ironic part: Two of the abstracts suspected of plagiarism were about — you guessed it — plagiarism.

Inside STAT: Democrats scramble to prove their leadership on lowering drug costs

As the 2020 campaign kicks off, Democratic presidential hopefuls have zeroed in on drug pricing as a key policy target. Sen. Bernie Sanders held a press conference yesterday to unveil a proposal to lower prescription prices that mirrors one of the Trump administration's own ideas. Sen. Cory Booker dialed up his own rhetoric, calling high drug prices "a stain on the very idea of America." Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another rumored candidate, re-introduced a trio of drug pricing bills this week that she's championed for years. Other Senate Democrats who are likely to follow Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2020 race have also taken aim at drug prices in the past month. STAT's Lev Facher has the story — read here

Louisiana looks to a Netflix model to pay for hepatitis C treatment

Louisiana officials are moving forward with a plan to pay for pricey hepatitis C treatments for Medicaid enrollees and people in state prisons — and they’re taking a page from Netflix, in a way. Officials estimate that about 39,000 people in Medicaid and state prisons are known to be infected with hepatitis C. The state is looking for drug makers who would supply treatments in a sort of subscription-based model. The state would pay a set amount over five years, and in exchange, would get unlimited access to the drugs for Medicaid enrollees and people in state prisons. Experts say it'll be critical for Louisiana figure out how to make sure there are enough providers trained to treat those patients and to consider the costs of related care, like lab tests.

Could statins and blood pressure drugs be used to treat serious mental illnesses?

New research suggests a handful of commonly used drugs for physical conditions might also be beneficial for people with serious mental illnesses. The study looked at health data from more than 142,000 people in Sweden with serious mental illnesses who were taking statins or certain blood pressure and diabetes drugs. Past studies have suggested the medicines might have an impact on psychiatric conditions. The analysis found that patients were less likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons during times when they were on any of the drugs compared to times when they weren't. The authors say that more research could shed light on whether the drugs could be repurposed.

What to read around the web today

  • A drug that eases miscarriages is difficult for women to get. NPR
  • What I learned from cancer. The Atlantic
  • Digital health is attracting huge investments, but will patients buy it? STAT Plus
  • Man sentenced for cyberattack on children's hospital. Associated Press
  • Drug pricing advocates to spend $1 million on ads supporting Trump proposal. STAT 

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend, 

Megan

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Friday, January 11, 2019

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