What We're Reading: Prescription Drugs 16.7% of Overall Healthcare Spending

What we're reading, March 9, 2016: prescription drugs accounted for 16.7% of US healthcare spending in 2015; the FDA will allow Amarin to promote a prescription fish oil for off-label uses; and racial disparities for infant mortality persist.

Prescription drugs accounted for 16.7% of all US healthcare spending in 2015, according to a report from HHS. STAT reported that rising drug prices and more expensive medicines coming to market drove the increase in prescription drug spending, which had only been 7% of healthcare spending back in the 1990s. Through 2018, drug spending is expected to outpace the growth in overall healthcare spending.

The FDA has reached a settlement with Amarin to allow its prescription fish-oil drug to be promoted for unapproved uses. The FDA said that the settlement was specific to this particular case and would not mark a new legal precedent, according to the Associated Press. However, the settlement opens up the opportunity for companies to pursue more aggressive legal action against the FDA.

Racial disparities in infant mortality persist despite a 13% drop in the national infant mortality rate. USA Today reported that black infants are dying at a rate that is more than twice the rate of white babies and black mothers are twice as likely to have expensive premature births. Extending nurse home visits to all eligible mothers would cost $60 billion over 10 years but would save $21 billion after that.