Medical Notes this week…

Government statistics are now quantifying the huge increase in drug overdose deaths. A report from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the drug death rate in 2015 was between two and three times what it was in 1999. During those 16 years, overdose deaths rose an average of 5.5 percent per year. Researchers say heroin deaths tripled and now make up a quarter of the total, while deaths from prescription pain medications declined slightly.

Millions of people take vitamin C to ward off colds and infections, but a new study finds that vitamin D is also important. The study in the journal BMJ shows that getting enough vitamin D cuts the proportion of people who get an acute respiratory infection by about 12 percent. Researchers say the study supports public health measures such as fortifying foods to increase vitamin D at least in locations where deficiency is common.

And finally, are pharmaceutical companies “getting away with murder” in relation to high drug prices? The president thinks so and about 75 percent of people agree. The Zogby poll for the organization Prescription Justice shows that 45 percent of people think the prescription drug supply system needs a major overhaul to reduce prices. About 30 percent of respondents say they’ve failed to get a prescription filled at some time in their life because it cost too much.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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