What We're Reading: Obama Seeks $1B to Fight Opioid Abuse

What we're reading, February 3, 2016: President Obama is asking Congress for $1.1 billion to combat the opioid abuse epidemic; 7 blockbuster drugs with the potential for more than $1 billion in sales each are expected in 2016; and less than half of infants are vaccinated against the flu.

The Obama administration is seeking $1.1 billion from Congress to combat the growing opioid abuse epidemic. The New York Times reported that half of the new money would expand treatment facilities, while the other half would go to programs intended to prevent overdoses and illegal sales, as well as improve access to naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose. Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates—including Republicans Chris Christie and Ben Carson, and Democrat Hillary Clinton—have spoken out about addressing the growing epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.

In 2016, 7 “blockbuster” drugs are expected to reach market. Reuters reported that each drug is projected to have the potential for more than $1 billion in sales. The 2 biggest treatments anticipated are Intercept Pharmaceuticals’ chronic liver disease drug, and Gilead Sciences’ new fixed dose HIV drug. In 2015, there were 11 new blockbuster drugs.

Among babies between the ages of 6 months and 23 months, less than half are getting the flu vaccine, CDC reported. While the number of infants being vaccine has increased sharply from less than 5% in 2002-2003 to almost 45% in 2011-2012, the total still falls short of the CDC’s recommendation that children age 6 months and older get the flu shot every year, according to HealthDay. Every year, 20,000 children under the age of 5 years are hospitalized because of complications from the flu and during the 2014-2015 flu season, more than 140 children died from the flu.