Quick Hits: Cancer Therapy Top Drug Spend, E-cigarettes & More

The top three categories of pharmaceutical spending in 2016 were biologic anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes medications and cancer therapy. In its 2016 Drug Trend Report, Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager, found that 1 out of every 5 dollars spent on prescription drugs was for a medication to treat an inflammatory condition or diabetes. Express Scripts claims that it kept the drug costs down for its employer clients, but prices continued to increase. The most commonly used brand-name drugs increased 10.7%, while specialty drugs increased 6.2% in 2016. Prices for the most commonly used generic drugs declined by 8.7%. Express Scripts’ clients paid almost $3,600 on average per prescription for an anti-inflammatory condition such as psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis. Posted February 6, 2017. Via Express Scripts.

E-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) — such as gum or patches — are far safer and less toxic than smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes. A University College London study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, examined saliva and urine samples from long-term e-cigarette and NRT users, as well as smokers. Researchers then compared levels of key chemicals found in their bodies. The results showed that smokers who completely switched to e-cigarettes or NRT had significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals compared to people who continued to smoke traditional cigarettes. Posted February 6, 2017. Via Reuters.

One out of 4 U.S. teen e-cigarette users has tried “dripping,” which is a method of inhaling thicker clouds of the vapor that is produced by e-cigarettes. This new vaping trend is alarming because its effect on health is unknown. Teens who have tried dripping claim that this newfound method makes flavors taste better and provides a stronger hit, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Some levels of carcinogens, such as formaldehyde and other aldehydes, are higher with direct dripping than with conventional e-cigarette use, previous research has found. Published February 6, 2017. Via HealthDay.

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