What We're Reading: Troubling Disparities Remain for Access to Preventive Care

What we're reading, April 15, 2016: troubling disparities in access to preventive care remain; new test to choose the right hepatitis C medication could save money; and upcoming loss of exclusivity for some drugs could mean big savings for the healthcare system.

There are troubling disparities in access to recommended preventive care, according to a new report. Not only is having a dedicated healthcare provider key to getting preventive care, but so is income and geography, reported STAT. Addressing these disparities means improving access through house calls, urgent care centers, and mobile medical clinics. The study found that half of adults between the ages of 50 and 74 with incomes less than $25,000 had a colorectal screening compared with three-quarters of people of the same age making $75,000 or more.

New tests to help choose the right hepatitis C virus medication could save money. The Washington Post reported that Quest Diagnostics’ newest tests can predict whether or not Zepatier and Daklinza will successfully fight a patient’s specific type of hepatitis C. With 6 virus genotypes, plus some subtypes, choosing the right drug can mean curing a patient and preventing the waste of money for the wrong treatment. The tests cost no more than $750.

The impact of loss of exclusivity of drugs can have on lowering healthcare costs should not be overlooked. According to Forbes, while total spending on prescription drugs rose 12.2% in 2015, some of the drugs that Americans spend the most money on are about to become a lot cheaper through increased competition. Biosimilars are being created for the drugs that Americans spend the second and third most money on: Enbrel and Humira, both for rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the fourth drug on the list is Crestor, for lowering cholesterol, which is about to lose patent protection, potentially driving costs down by as much as 90%.