Study: Proportion Of Opioid-Dependent Pregnant Women Has More Than Doubled In Past 15 Years

HealthDay (11/19, Haelle) reports that according to a study published in the December issue of the journal Anesthesiology, “the proportion of women dependent on drugs such as narcotic painkillers or heroin during pregnancy has more than doubled in the past decade and a half.” The research “covers a class of drugs known as opioids, which include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin) and Vicodin; morphine and methadone; as well as illegal drugs such as heroin.” Researchers arrived at the study’s conclusion after analyzing “national hospitalization data on nearly 57 million deliveries between 1998 and 2011.”

Bloomberg News (11/18, Edney) reports that, according to a study released by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, “it costs drugmakers $2.56 billion to bring a new medicine to market, on average,” which is “more than double the price of 11 years ago,” according to a study released today. The researchers say the higher cost “comes from clinical trials that are larger and more complex, as well as more drugs that fail in development.” Joseph DiMasi, director of economic analysis at the Boston-based center, said in a statement, “Drug development remains a costly undertaking despite ongoing efforts across the full spectrum of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to rein in growing R&D costs.”

The Boston Globe (11/19, Weisman) outlines what the researchers said has driven up the cost of developing medication within recent years. According to Tufts officials, one “reason for surging development costs is that scientists are seeking to develop medicines for more complex and difficult-to-treat diseases, ranging from Alzheimer’s to brain and pancreatic cancers.” Other factors cited by Tufts officials include “regulatory requirements mandating clinical trials with more patients and longer time frames, and the expense of studies to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of new [medicines],” and they factored in “rising costs of those [medication] candidates that prove unsuccessful in the laboratory or do not win regulatory approval.” Those medicines “account for the vast majority of experimental treatments.” Data included in the study showed that “only 11.8 percent of drug compounds entering clinical testing are eventually approved.”

Related Links:

— “Scientists close in on non-addictive opioid painkillers,” Laura Ungar, USA Today, November 17, 2014.

Posted in In The News.