Clawback lawsuit against CVS

A lawsuit against CVS says the company charges people more if they use insurance than if they pay cash — a practice we know as a clawback.

The suit claims that the pharmacy agrees with pharmacy benefit managers […] to sell certain drugs at a higher price if a customer is paying with insurance.

The lead plaintiff in the case is a woman named Megan Schultz, and she claims that she bought a generic medication at CVS that cost $165.68 under her insurance but would’ve cost only $92 had she paid in cash without using her insurance.

Study says using marijuana once raises risk of hypertension death

A new study from Georgia State University found that “Compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use.”

The study considered someone a “marijuana user” if he ever used marijuana — even once, decades ago.

No emergency, and that’s fine

Trump won’t declare a national emergency over the opioid epidemic — and this Washington Post columnist explains why that’s A-OK.

Declaring a problem a “national emergency” frees up some additional federal funding and provides a few more routes to address the issue via programs like Medicaid. But not by much, experts say.

Abuse-deterrent? Maybe

Abuse-deterrent opioids sound great, but the evidence that they actually work is still limited (“promising, but inconclusive”). The big concern: They’ll just push users to other drugs instead.

Drug-overdose deaths continue to climb

The latest government statistics show overdose deaths jumped almost 20 percent from the third quarter of 2015 to the same period in 2016. About 60 percent of those deaths are from opioids.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported that overdose deaths reached a record 19.9 per 100,000 population in the third quarter, a big increase over the 16.7 recorded for the same three months in 2015.

At this pace, more than 60,000 Americans will have died of drug overdoses in a single year.

FDA expected to approve more generics than ever

The FDA continues its record-setting pace for generic drug approvals — it’s on pace to surpass its 2016 numbers, which were already high (and significantly higher than its European counterpart).

Generics get cheaper, but consumers don’t see it

Generic drug prices have been going down for at least the last seven years. That’s saved insurance companies a lot of money, but patients? Not so much.

Dulling the pain

Why yes, drinking alcohol does reduce the pain you feel. Or as one news story put it, “Beer is a Better Pain Reliever Than Tylenol.”

A mean blood alcohol content (BAC) of approximately .08% (3–4 standard drinks) produced a small elevation of pain threshold and a moderate to large reduction in pain intensity ratings, or equivalently, a mean reduction of 1.25 points on a 0- to 10-point pain rating scale.

Elsewhere

A new Maryland law targets pharmaceutical price-gouging, but as one columnist points out, it doesn’t actually affect the drugs with “excessive” prices: branded medication.

Despite the rhetoric, “[T]he bill leaves untouched the segment of the pharmaceutical industry that is responsible for the ‘unconscionable’ increases in drug prices in recent years.”

New Hampshire* *is the latest rider on the sue-the-opioid-makers bandwagon.