Health Highlights: Oct. 25, 2018

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

Bill to Fight U.S. Opioid Crisis Signed Into Law

A bipartisan bill meant to combat the United States’ opioid abuse epidemic was signed into law Wednesday by President Donald Trump.

The legislation, which also covers other types of substance abuse, expands treatment options and removes a ban on Medicaid reimbursing residential treatment at certain facilities with more than 16 beds, the Associated Press reported.

There is also $60 million earmarked for babies who are born drug-dependent and authorization for programs that place drug offenders into treatment instead of behind bars.

The legislation also requires the U.S. Postal Service to screen international packages for a synthetic form of opioids called fentanyl, the AP reported.

Last year, nearly 48,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses.

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Price of Cholesterol Drug Repatha Cut by 60 Percent

The price of the cholesterol drug Repatha has been cut by 60 percent, from about $14,000 to $5,850 per year, maker Amgen Inc. said Wednesday.

The price reduction will be especially helpful for Medicare beneficiaries, according to Amgen CEO Robert Bradway. Many now have out-of-pocket costs of $370 per month, but that will fall to $25 to $150 per month, depending on their specific prescription plan, the Associated Press reported.

In May, rivals Sanofi and Regeneron significantly reduced what they charge prescription plans, but not the list price, for their similar cholesterol medication, Praluent.

Repatha and Praluent are self-injected drugs prescribed to patients who have high cholesterol but either can’t tolerate the side effects of cholesterol drugs called statins or haven’t had good results with statins, the AP reported.

High cholesterol increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Because generic statin pills cost pennies a day, prescription plans have limited the number of patients approved for Repatha or Praluent, the AP reported.

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