What We're Reading: Revisiting Standards of Pain Management

What we're reading, April 18, 2016: medical experts ask the Joint Commission to revisit its standards of pain management; study determines low-cost generics just as effective at treating hepatitis C as brand name drugs; and UnitedHealth also pulling out of Michigan Obamacare exchange.

Nonprofit groups and medical experts have asked the Joint Commission to revisit its standards of pain management. According to AP, these critics of how prescription painkillers are administered in the US want health officials to phase out the current hospital procedures and questionnaires used to manage pain. The letter states that current standards foster “dangerous pain control practices” and inadvertently encourages the overprescribing of addictive drugs that have fueled the epidemic of overdoses in the US.

Last week, UnitedHealth announced that it would pull out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges in Arkansas and Georgia, and now it has added a third state. In 2017, UnitedHealth will no longer offer plans on the ACA exchange in Michigan, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company expects to lose more than $500 million on its exchange business in 2016, and analysts expected UnitedHealth to pull out of most, if not all, of the 34 states in which it offered plans in 2016.

A new study has determined that low-cost generic drugs are just as safe and effective for treating hepatitis C as the expensive brand name versions. The brand name drugs cost as much as $94,000 a patient, while the generic versions cost less than 1% of that, reported HealthDay. The researchers added that a full course could cost as little as $200 in the coming years.