What We're Reading: How Hospitals Are Battling Rising Drug Costs

What we're reading, December 19, 2016: how hospitals are altering routines to address rising drug costs; in Colorado, proponents of the aid-in-dying law are searching for more affordable options for the drug to induce death in terminally ill patients; and the 3000 areas in the United States with higher blood lead levels than Flint, Michigan.

With the price of some drugs that hospitals routinely relied upon skyrocketing, hospitals are being forced to address the cost increases. According to The Wall Street Journal, in order to combat rising drug costs, hospitals are altering well-established routines. For example, one hospital is removing less-critical drugs from crash carts to reduce the amount that goes unused. Other hospitals are being more careful about dispensing medications or switching to cheaper versions.

Rising costs have also affected the lethal drug used to induce death for terminally ill patients. In Colorado, where an aid-in-dying law is taking effect this month, proponents of the law are working to ensure a more affordable drug concoction is available, reported Kaiser Health News. The drug most commonly used is now $3000—double the price it was before Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired it in February 2015. However, proponents have worked on creating a new drug combination that costs between $300 and $400.

Flint, Michigan, has become known for its lead-contaminated drinking water, but it’s not even the city with the worst lead poisoning. A Reuters investigation found nearly 3000 areas in the United States that have lead poisoning rates far higher than Flint. More than 1000 of the areas had blood lead levels that were at least 4 times higher than what was found in Flint. According to the CDC, even a slight elevation in blood lead levels in children leads to reduced IQ and stunted development. However, these cities are not receiving adequate funding to address the public health crisis.