What We're Reading: AHA Coverage Ad; Conditional Drug Approval; Youth Opioid Use

AHA Commercial Implores Congress to Maintain Coverage

Televisions in the Washington, DC, area will soon be broadcasting ads from the American Hospital Association (AHA) urging policy makers to protect health insurance coverage for the 20 million Americans who gained it under the Affordable Care Act. According to Inside Health Policy, the ad does not mention the Republicans’ proposed American Health Care Act by name, instead it alludes to the idea that some plans being debated in Congress would revoke coverage for millions.

Conditional Approval Could Limit Price of Novel Drugs

A Health Affairs blog post suggested a potential solution to the exorbitant costs of new drugs: conditional approval, which would allow drugs to be sold at a limited price until long-term efficacy data warrants full approval. It used the example of a new drug for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy that costs $300,000 per year but has not demonstrated clinical benefit beyond a change in a surrogate endpoint. A conditional approval policy would allow patients to access the medication at a low cost, which would either avoid wasteful spending if the drug is ultimately not effective or prevent needless suffering and death if it is beneficial.

Opioid Use Among Adolescents Continues to Decline

Both the nonmedical and medical use of prescription opioids by US adolescents has decreased since 2013, according to a study in Pediatrics. Teens who reported both medical and nonmedical use were more likely to report they had used opioids for medical reasons first before beginning to take them recreationally. The researchers called for more preventive interventions targeting this age group, such as educating them on proper disposal of the drugs after their medical need has ended.