What We're Reading: Cutting Public Health Responders; Opioid Payments to Docs; Mistrust of Prescriptions

The White House is proposing cutting the Public Health Service Commissioner Corps, which is deployed during disasters and disease outbreaks, by nearly 40%; payments made by opioid manufacturers to physicians have decreased as public attention to the opioid epidemic grows; mistrust of drugs and doctors may partly explain why black patients are less likely than white patients to take recommended statins.

Proposal Would Cut Force That Responds to Public Health Emergencies

The Public Health Service Commissioner Corps currently has 6500 public health professionals who are deployed during disasters and disease outbreaks, but the White House is proposing cutting that force by nearly 40%. The Washington Post reported that the administration wants “a leaner and more efficient organization” made up of no more than 4000 officers. During hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, more than 1460 officers were sent to respond and nearly 300 went to Liberia during the Ebola epidemic.

Opioid Payments to Physicians Decline

Payments made by opioid manufacturers to physicians for speaking, consulting, meals, and travel related to opioids have decreased as public attention to the opioid epidemic grows. In 2016, drug makers paid doctors $15.8 million, which was down from 23.7 million in 2015, according to a report from NPR and ProPublica. Payments for Subsys, a fentanyl spray from Insys, and Hysingla ER, an extended-release version of Purdue Pharma’s hydrocodone, represented the largest drops in spending.

Racial Differences in Drug Use a Result of Mistrust

A new study found that mistrust of drugs and doctors may partly explain why black patients are less likely than white patients to take recommended statins. According to Reuters, 82% of black patients said they trusted their physician compared with 94% of white patients. In addition, far fewer black patients thought statins were safe (36% vs 57%) and slightly fewer thought they were effective (70% vs 74%). In general, both groups were receiving doses that were too low: 33% of black patients and 44% of white patients were given doses high enough to comply with guidelines.