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A new projection of opioid overdose death rates suggests that even if there is steady progress in reducing prescription narcotic abuse across the country, the number of fatal overdoses — which reached 47,600 in 2017 — will rise sharply in the coming years. No matter how you slice it, the nation’s opioid epidemic “is not finished growing,” said decision scientist Jag Chhatwal of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the research.

TACKLING PRESCRIPTION drug abuse will hardly make a dent in America's ongoing opioid crisis in the coming years, a new study suggests. "People who start using prescription opioids, at some point, may transition to the next stage, (and) as the supply-side shifts happen, we see increased availability of illicit opioids," says Jag Chhatwal, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a senior scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital's Institute for Technology Assessment. He is a co-senior author of the study, published Friday in JAMA Network Open

Almost 620,000 gay and bisexual men in the United States were living with HIV in 2014, and 100,000 of these men were not even aware of their infection. These men are 100 times more likely to have anal cancer than HIV-negative men who exclusively have sex with women. Yet, no national screening guidelines exist for anal cancer prevention in any population. Anal cancer is predominantly caused by chronic or persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV infection can lead to the development of anal precancer which, if remains undetected or not adequately treated, may lead to anal cancer. Likewise, HPV infection is

New York: Use of the generic versions of directly-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs that are available in India to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can increase lifespan while reducing lifetime health care costs, says a study. Compared with no DAA treatment, use of the generic drugs in HCV-infected Indian patients would increase life expectancy by more than eight years while reducing lifetime health care costs by more than $1,300 (Rs. 116,442) per person, said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE."Our hypothesis was that treatment would be cost saving, given the low drug costs in India. However, we were

WBUR examined fast-moving changes in cancer research and treatment in a series we're calling, "This Moment In Cancer." Leaders in cancer research say the field has reached a pivotal moment, including the discovery of new treatments. But, these new treatments come with a price tag that many experts believe is unsustainable. Richard Knox joined Morning Edition to discuss the rising costs associated with cancer drugs. Below is a transcription of our conversation with him.  Read full story here. 

This story is part of our "This Moment In Cancer" series. Nearly a half-century separates the Obama administration's Cancer Moonshot from President Richard Nixon’s War on Cancer. But Greg Simon, the moonshot's inaugural director, says the two programs are really one marathon effort. “We’re not starting a new war on cancer,” says Simon, a former corporate executive who has a type of blood cancer. “We’re trying to finish the one we’ve been in. What’s different now is everything.” Simon reflects the general bullishness among cancer cognoscenti about the prospects for a great leap forward in cancer care. That fresh enthusiasm is why we're

Dr. Jag Chhatwal, assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, has studied the economics of treating hepatitis C in prisons and said that while the drugs are expensive, liver transplants and treatment for patients with hepatitis C in its later stages are also costly. He said treating the disease in prison is worth it in the long run because cutting the number of infected people in prison has a dramatic impact on the number of people living with the disease society wide. That’s because the average length of time anyone spends in prison is three years, but it can take

The high cost of hepatitis C drugs may be straining budgets nationwide, but the country can save money if prison inmates are screened and treated for the disease, according to a new study. “The problem is that not enough prisoners are getting treated because the drugs do cost a lot,” said Jag Chhatwal, a study co-author and health economist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Technology Assessment. “Meanwhile, this is a population where many have used drugs, shared needles, and infected others. If prison budgets can afford [the drugs], there could be long-term substantial savings.” Read full story here. 

Doctors, patients and insurers have been struggling with how to determine who should be treated for hepatitis C now that effective but wildly expensive drugs can all but cure the disease. Treating prison inmates is a good investment that would save money in the long run, a study finds. The drugs, Harvoni and Sovaldi, cure about 90 percent of patients, but at a hefty price, about $90,000 per patient. The drugs are made by Gilead Sciences and were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the last two years.Read full story here.