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What We're Reading: Senior Citizens Getting Sicker and More Costly

AJMC Staff
What we're reading, May 25, 2016: Senior citizens are expected to be sicker and more costly than the previous generation; men with early-stage cancer are increasingly choosing to avoid treatment; and the FDA is looking at an implantable treatment for opioid addiction.
Baby boomers are expected to be sicker and more costly for the healthcare system than the previous generation of senior citizens. According to NPR, there will be 55% more senior citizens with diabetes and 25% more who are obese. Healthcare costs for patients with diabetes are 2.5 times higher and this is bad news for taxpayers as most of the costs will be borne by Medicare. However, there are some good trends: senior citizens are less likely to smoke than earlier generations.

Men with early-stage prostate cancer are avoiding treatment more than they had 5 years ago. Nearly half are choosing no treatment at all, or active surveillance, compared with nearly all opting for surgery or radiation 5 years ago, reported The New York Times. Major research organizations—such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which issued guidelines—have been recommending active surveillance. However, there is a dilemma for younger men who have a longer life expectancy during which their tumor could grow and become more aggressive, but they are more likely to want to avoid radical treatment.

The FDA is considering a treatment for opioid addiction that would be implanted in the skin. The system of implanted rods would offer a controlled release of buprenorphine and because it is implanted, it won’t be easy to sell the drug illegally, according to Kaiser Health News. The FDA is expected to decide with or not to approve the device within a week. The device doesn’t work for everyone, but its relapse rate (12%) was better than the rate  for the pill version of the drug (28%).

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