What We're Reading: Pressure to Calculate the Price of Extending Life

What we're reading, February 26, 2016: drug makers are facing pressure to calculate the cost of extending a patient's life; a look at how addiction is viewed and treated in the US; and staving off the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Drug makers are facing increasing pressure to put a price on the time patients gain from high-cost medications. And while most drug companies have shied away from linking drug prices to amount or quality of time patients gain, change is starting to happen, STAT reported. However, there are practical concerns—effectiveness of a drug depends on adherence—and technical challenges—how do you quantify the quality of life a patients gets?

In an interview with NPR, researcher A. Thomas McLellan discussed how addiction is viewed and how it has shaped the treatment system in the US. He explained that mainstream healthcare is not prepared to handle the current opioid crisis because less than 10% of medical schools have a course in addiction. In reality, addiction is a brain disease and it similar to chronic illnesses, as such it has to be treated over the long haul, same as diseases like diabetes, which is a “tough sell.”

Keeping your mind active may protect against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but doesn’t actually ward off the disease. According to The Washington Post, researchers found that people who carried the APOe4 gene were predisposed to Alzheimer’s, but they fared better when they were better educated and stayed physically and mentally active during midlife. These individuals were not able to prevent the disease, but kept cognitive decline at bay.