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What We're Reading: Prescription Heroin; Healthcare Merger Scrutiny; Health of Migrants


Think tank RAND is suggesting that long-time heroin users who have failed on other treatments might be treated with pharmaceutical-grade heroin; House Democrats want more scrutiny on healthcare mergers as consolidation continues to lead to rising prices; a new study has found that migrants tend to be healthier and live longer than residents of the wealthy countries that they are traveling to.

Treatment With Pharmaceutical-Grade Heroin

With opioid-related deaths rising and a surge in illicit drugs being used, think tank RAND is suggesting something controversial: treating long-time heroin users with pharmaceutical-grade heroin. According to NPR, this controversial treatment is already happening in European countries and Canada as a way to provide a legal source of heroin to people who might get a tainted drug on the street. Heroin-assisted treatment would only be available to heroin users who have tried other treatments and have not had success. Research has shown patients treated with prescription heroin were more likely to stay in treatment and may even reduce criminal activity and improve patients’ physical and mental health.

House Democrats to Look Into Healthcare Mergers

Consolidation in healthcare has been associated with rising healthcare costs without a corresponding increase in quality of care, and House Democrats want more scrutiny on these mergers. The incoming chairs of the House Judiciary and its antitrust subcommittee have said healthcare mergers and monopoly power in healthcare markets are among their top concerns for 2019, according to The Washington Post. There has been a spate of megamergers recently, with the latest being CVS Health and Aetna. However, while that merger seemed to be a done deal, the US district court judge in Washington, DC, is considering delaying the merger until he has a chance to review it, reported The Hill. The Department of Justice had already approved the merger, but the judge ordered a hearing for December 18.

Migrants Are Healthier Than Residents of Countries They Travel To

A new study has found that migrants tend to be healthier and live longer than residents of the wealthy countries that they are traveling to, contrary to populist arguments that migrants pose a health risk. In addition, migrants are beneficial to the health system because they often become healthcare workers, reported Reuters. The study found that migrants were less likely to die of illnesses, and while they were more prone to infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, the diseases tended to spread among immigrant communities and not among the general population.

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