What We’re Reading: Increased Laxative Reliance; Ketamine Accessibility; Abortion Increases in the US


An uptick in laxative use causes shortage; ketamine can help suicidal thoughts but can be hard to access; new data suggest that abortions increased in most states in 2023.

Rising Laxative Reliance Contributes to Shortage

Soaring demand is adding to a shortage of polyethylene glycol 3350, the generic name for laxatives like Miralax and Glycolax, say gastroenterologists and suppliers, reports The Wall Street Journal. Throughout the United States, customers are noticing the lack. Experts in gastroenterology and behavior indicate that the aging population and most Americans don’t have enough fiber intake that can lead to constipation. They also indicated the lingering physical and psychological effects of the pandemic as a cause behind customers’ increasing reliance on the products. Health providers say this rising overuse is concerning.

Ketamine Accessibility Issues Can Prevent Its Use for Suicidal Thoughts

Intravenous (IV) ketamine shows promise in relieving certain mental health symptoms, but all mental illness treatment that uses IV ketamine is presently off label, meaning that it’s hard to get insurance to cover the treatments that can cost anywhere from $400 to $1000 per session, according to Stat News. Accessibility can also pose an issue in other ways; patients might live far from infusion centers and have problems finding a provider who can prescribe the medication. Esketamine (Spravato) is the only ketamine drug currently approved for depression if taken in conjunction with an oral antidepressant. Many insurances will cover this, but out-of-pocket monthly costs run $784.

Most States Saw Abortion Increases in 2023

Legal abortions likely grew across the country in the first 6 months of the year compared with 2020, according to a new analysis of estimates, as states with more lenient abortion laws took in patients traveling from states with bans, and abortion pill access through telemedicine continued to grow, reports The New York Times. The Guttmacher Institute offered new research that provides the most updated view of legal abortions since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision in 2022 toppled abortion access across the country and permitted more than 12 states to ban or restrict it. The data propose that thousands of women have traversed state lines for an abortion when they have encountered restrictions at home. It also suggests an increase in abortions for those living in states where they are legal.

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