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Prescription Drugs

Budget focus: Medicaid growth, hep C drugs, SHBP

The state’s Department of Community Health is asking for additional state funds to cover projected Georgia enrollment for Medicaid and PeachCare, which for the first time will exceed 2 million.

Clyde Reese

Clyde Reese

The budget proposal also requests $23 million to cover the high cost of drugs to treat hepatitis C patients in both the midyear fiscal 2016 budget and in the 2017 plan.

The budget plans, approved by Community Health’s board Thursday, now go to Gov. Nathan Deal and then to the Georgia General Assembly for approval.

It would be the second straight year that the agency will not have to cut its base budget, said Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese. The agency’s current budget is roughly $3 billion in state funds.

Hepatitis C drugs have an astronomical cost, averaging more than $30,000 per patient per month in retail price. But states, including Georgia, can get a discount on that price for their Medicaid programs that could reach 40 percent. full story

Study reveals patterns of prescription drug abuse

People who have recently used illicit drugs have a higher likelihood of misusing prescription painkillers as well, a University of Georgia study has found.

The nationwide study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, also revealed a significant age difference in how people obtain these pain medications.

Prescription painkiller Vicodin

Prescription painkiller Vicodin

Older adults were more likely to report acquiring these drugs by going to multiple physicians, while younger people were more likely to get the painkillers from friends, relatives or drug dealers.

Abuse of opioid painkillers is a major national problem.

From 1999 to 2013, the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed and sold in this country nearly quadrupled. In 2013 alone, more than 16,000 people died in the United States from opioid painkillers, which include hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine. full story

Bill on ‘biosimilar’ drugs easily clears panel

$1,300 a month.

That’s how much Kerry Tucker spends for the “biologic” medication to treat her arthritis.

Kerry Tucker

Kerry Tucker

“And I have health insurance,’’ she told lawmakers Thursday.

Biologic drugs are specially engineered drugs that have made a major difference in people’s ability to handle their symptoms from arthritis and other diseases. But they also carry a high price tag.

Tucker, an Atlanta resident, came to the state Capitol to testify for a bill that would make it easier for patients like her to get a cheaper medication that’s similar to a biologic drug they are currently taking.

The goal of Senate Bill 51 is to create a state structure for the prescribing of “biosimilar’’ drugs – and could potentially save Georgians money.  full story

Contest targets teen prescription drug abuse

The video begins with a teenage boy opening a cabinet to grab a bottle of prescription drugs.

“A few little pills can’t hurt, right?’’ says the narrator.

The teenager then is shown on the floor, apparently unconscious.

The video, produced by George Walton Comprehensive High School students in Marietta, won a Georgia high school video contest aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse among teenagers.

YouTube Preview ImagePrescription drug abuse is a problem that affects almost all age groups.

Among teens, a national CDC-sponsored survey in 2013 found that nearly one in five high school students has taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription. The survey asked if they’d ever taken a drug such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax, without a prescription.  full story

Personal health: Sticker shock at pharmacy

My recent sinus infection came on suddenly and painfully. After diagnosing it, my physician e-prescribed me an antibiotic.

cohdra_100_9279This is tricky territory for me. I’m sensitive to some antibiotics. Years ago, I took a couple of varieties to treat similar infections, and wound up with oral thrush in one case and C. difficile in another. Both were 100 times worse than the original ailment.

My physician knew this history. He prescribed a two-week supply of doxycyline hyclate, a dependable antibiotic that he felt I could tolerate well, partly because I had handled it well in the past.

So I headed to my pharmacy to pick up the “doxy.”

“It’s one seventeen,’’ said the clerk, in an oddly sheepish way.

I pulled a dollar from my wallet and extracted some change from my pants pocket.

She looked at the money and said, “No. It’s a hundred and seventeen dollars.’’

“Whoa,’’ I said. “$117?” full story

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