As we approach the end of the annual federal holiday drought, Congress is leaving town for a week. Here is a link to the Week in Congress’s report on past week’s activities on Capitol Hill. 

The New York Times reports today that the number of opioid prescriptions is finally dropping nationwide.

For much of the past two decades, doctors were writing so many prescriptions for the powerful opioid painkillers that, in recent years, there have been enough for every American adult to have a bottle. But for each of the past three years — 2013, 2014 and 2015 — prescriptions have declined, a review of several sources of data shows.
Experts say the drop is an important early signal that the long-running prescription opioid epidemic may be peaking, that doctors have begun heeding a drumbeat of warnings about the highly addictive nature of the drugs and that federal and state efforts to curb them are having an effect.

Experts have been worried about over-prescription of antibiotics for years.  Modern Healthcare reports that

A little more than one-third of acute care hospitals in the U.S. adhere to best practices to promote appropriate use of antibiotics, according to a new report. An analysis of more than 4,100 U.S. acute-care hospitals recently published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that 39% had an antibiotics stewardship program that met all seven of the core elements recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

This is not a tsk tsk situation.  We have reached a true “ruh-roh” moment on the antibiotic over-usage front.  According to Reuters

U.S. health officials on Thursday reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infection resistant to a last-resort antibiotic, and expressed grave concern that the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads.
“We risk being in a post-antibiotic world,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not traveled within the prior five months.
Frieden, speaking at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., said the bacteria was resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against “nightmare bacteria.

Let’s wrap up this post with a few tidbits on topics that the FEHBlog has been following —

  • Drug Channels digs into the CALPers PBM contract recently awarded to OptumRx. 
  • The OPM Inspector General issued another report on OPM’s efforts to better secure its computer systems. Here’s a link to the Washington Post’s report thereon. 
  • Beckers Hospital Review reports that Ohio’s health insurance co-op, Coordinated Health Mutual, has failed. The Hill adds that “Just 10 of the original 23 [ACA creations] will now remain.

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