What We're Reading: Opioid Prescription Disparities; Trump Backs Drug Import Plan; High Cost of Drugs Approved in 2018

May 10, 2019

White patients are significantly more likely to be prescribed buprenorphine compared with patients of other races/ethnicities; Trump has backed a Florida proposal to import drugs from Canada; nearly 25% of medications approved in 2018 cost more than $30,000 per year.

White Patients More Likely to Be Prescribed Opioids

Trump Backs Plan to Import Drugs From Canada

Between 2012 and 2015, white populations were almost 35 times more likely to be prescribed buprenorphine than patients of other races/ethnicities (12.7 million vs 363,000), according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The study also found that buprenorphine treatment was concentrated among those with private insurance and those who self-pay. The study combined data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey outpatient department component.President Donald Trump has approved Florida’s proposal to import prescription drugs from Canada, breaking from some Republicans, including Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. In order for the proposal to be implemented, HHS Secretary Alex Azar would have to certify that the imported drugs would be safe, reported The Hill. Azar has previously voiced concerns with the idea, but in a press call earlier this week, he said the administration supports importation if it can be done safely.

1 in 4 Prescriptions Approved in 2018 Cost Over $30,000

Out of approximately 100 medications approved in 2018, 23 of them came with a list price of more than $30,000 per year for a course of treatment, according to an analysis from GoodRx. Many of the approved drugs, which have prices ranging from $35,839 to $573,820, are to treat specific cancers, such as ivosidenib (Tibsovo) for acute myeloid leukemia, which costs $317,733. Others were approved for rare conditions, including migalastat (Galafold), which costs $315,250. Other drugs that topped the list include lanadelumab-flyo (Takhzyro) for hereditary angioedema and larotrectinib (Vitrakvi) for solid tumors expressing neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase.