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What We're Reading: Switching to Generics; Cutting Opioid Production; Updating Alzheimer's Tests


Patients Unable to Switch to a Generic

Patients are often told to ask for the cheaper, generic version of a drug, but that option might not always be available to them. According to an investigation by The New York Times and ProPublica, pharmaceutical companies cutting deals mean some consumers have to shell out the extra cash for a brand name drug. Adderall has been the perfect example with the brand name drug having continued success despite generic competitors. The practice is even spreading to biosimilars—UnitedHealthcare told health providers it preferred Johnson & Johnson’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade over the cheaper biosimilars coming to the market.

Reducing Opioid Manufacturing

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is proposing reducing the amount of opioids manufactured for 1 year. With the country struggling with an epidemic of opioid abuse, the DEA has suggested cutting production by 20% on opioids and other controlled substances, reported Reuters. The announcement comes on the heels of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to go after doctors and pharmacies who over-prescribed opioids. The DEA proposal will be open for comment for 30 days.

Improving How We Test for Alzheimer’s

Scientists are working to develop an Alzheimer’s test that is more accurate, cheaper, and less invasive. NPR reported that scientists have presented early data on a blood test and a brain imaging technique to replace the current biomarker tests, which can be expensive or require special technology. Getting a cheaper test to the market could mean screening the population more broadly for people at high risk of the disease before focusing the more expensive efforts to treat them or prevent them from getting Alzheimer’s.

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