Preference for Name-Brand Drugs Could Cost Medicare Millions

Hey U.S. government, here’s some money-saving news to keep on your radar. Recently, researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center revealed a study that showed eye care providers prescribe more name-brand medications by volume than any other group. It’s a discovery that could have nationwide implications, considering eye care providers contribute around $2.4 billion in annual Medicare Part D prescription costs.

So, where does the money-saving come in?

Researchers estimate that switching to lower-cost generics could save Medicare $882 million a year, and the United States Veterans Administration around $1.09 billion a year. Part of the reason stems from the reality that generics often cost three or four times less than brand medications. To add insult to injury, researchers believe that many patients don’t fill brand prescriptions due to their high costs.

“Using a brand medication for a single patient may not seem like a big deal, but ultimately, these higher costs are paid by all of us,” says Kellogg neuro-ophthalmology specialist Lindsey De Lott, who is a senior author on the study. “In the case of Medicare, taxpayers are spending the money and most of the time, there is no evidence to suggest that brand medications are superior to generics.”

Prescription Drug Costs

Put simply, eye care providers are disproportionately contributing to prescription drug spending in the United States. And if changes are to be made, researchers believe they will need to be enacted through significant policy reform.

“If the cost of generic medications increase, such as what occurred in 2014 when the price of generic prednisolone acetate and generic phenylephrine soared, changing providers’ prescription patterns would not help to reduce costs,” says Maria Woodward, a senior author and Kellogg cornea specialist. “A policy change, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, would lead to more substantial savings.”

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Study Finds Doctors Often Miss Early Signs of Heart Disease

If you diligently visit your doctor every year and have an annual physical done, you may not be all that concerned about the possibility of heart disease affecting you, provided your doctor hasn’t mentioned it in the past. After all, if you doctor hasn’t raised concerns about heart disease, then why worry? But according to a new study conducted by CRICO Strategies and medical malpractice insurance company Doctors Company, and published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, the early signs of heart disease often go unnoticed by physicians.

The study analyzed more than 250 medical malpractice cases that have been closed and took a closer look at whether or not the patients in those cases could have been diagnosed with signs of heart disease much earlier in their lives than they were. Unfortunately, the researchers found that about a quarter of the patients who were diagnosed with serious diseases like myocardial infarction and coronary atherosclerosis later in life exhibited signs of heart disease prior to being diagnosed with them. Furthermore, these patients were often misdiagnosed with other less serious conditions.

Man with Chest Pains

Despite these concerns, people should still make regular appointments with their doctors and speak with them about the early signs of heart disease and other health concerns. But they should also be aware that it can be difficult for doctors to interpret the early symptoms of heart disease and make an accurate diagnosis. With this in mind, it’s important to speak openly and honestly with your doctor about the possibility of heart disease, even if your risk factors are relatively low.

It’s also important for you to hold your physician accountable if they fail to uphold the expected standard of care.  If you or a loved one has suffered a severe cardiopulmonary health issue as a result of a doctor’s negligence, the experienced malpractice attorneys at Ask 4 Sam can help. Give us a call today at our toll-free number or contact us online to learn more.

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Study Finds Parents Are Prone to Making Medication Errors

Medication errors are some of the most common causes of medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors and healthcare providers. In some cases, a doctor might accidentally prescribe a dangerously-high dose to a patient. In others, they might prescribe the wrong medication altogether. But doctors are not the only ones who can make medication errors.

Recently, a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics estimated that over 80 percent of parents have made at least 1 dosing error when administering medication to their children. Of those, roughly 12 percent were overdosing errors. Now, the researchers behind the study are calling on pharmaceutical companies to improve drug labels and provide consumers with tools that make it easier to properly dose medications.

The study’s findings were based on a survey of 500 parents with young children. The parents were split at random into four groups, each of which was given different drug labels and dosing tools that varied in format and units of measurement. The researchers found that the parents who received illustrated dosing diagrams on their drug labels were less likely to commit dosage errors. Parents who received dosing tools that closely matched prescribed dose volumes were also less likely to make errors.

Rather than placing blame on parents, the researchers are concerned that poorly-designed drug labeling and packaging make it easy to accidentally administer doses that are either too high or too low. With this in mind, the researchers issued a recommendation for drug manufacturers to include “pictographic dosing diagrams” on drug labels, and accurate dosing tools such as oral syringes in their packaging.

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