Health Highlights: Nov. 5, 2015

Health Highlights: Nov. 5, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Prescription Painkillers, Heroin the Top Drug Threats in U.S.

Prescription painkillers and heroin are among the major drug threats in the United States, the federal government says.

Of the more than 46,000 drug overdoses in 2013, about half were from prescription drugs and more than 8,000 from heroin, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration drug threat assessment released Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Heroin is most popular among drug users in the Northeast and Midwest, but the drug has become more available nationwide and its use increased about 50 percent between 2013 and 2014, the DEA said.

Between 2010 and 2014, seizures of heroin rose from 2,761 kilos to 5,013 kilos, the AP reported.

Methamphetamine is another major drug threat, according to the DEA.

One positive note is the falling availability and use of cocaine, said Chuck Rosenberg, the DEA’s acting administrator, the AP reported.


Senate Committee to Investigate Huge Drug Price Hikes

Drug pricing by four companies will be investigated by the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging.

The four companies — Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, Retrophin Inc. and Rodelis Therapeutics — were sent letters asking why they introduced huge price increases for drugs, Bloomberg News reported.

The committee is particularly interested in why Turing boosted the cost of the anti-infection drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a tablet.

A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Dec. 9. The use of subpoenas if the drug companies don’t cooperate is supported by panel leader Senator Susan Collins of Maine, according to a committee spokesman, Bloomberg reported.

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