You could slap a bunch of cash on the counter for a brand-name prescription drug – or you could go generic and help the U.S. generate savings to the tune of about $1 billion on prescription drug spending every other day. Businessweek reports that the increasing use of generic prescription drugs saved the country about $193 billion last year, up from $158 billion in savings in 2010. About 80 percent of prescriptions in the U.S. were generic in 2011, all of which accounted for just 27 percent of U.S. spending on prescription medicine last year.
Americans are also presumably spending less on cigarettes. MedPage Today says a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that total cigarette consumption fell nearly 33 percent over a 12-year period, while at the same time, pipe tobacco and large cigar use jumped nearly six and three percent, respectively. Overall, there was a steady decline of nearly 28 percent in smoking, but the increase in use of other forms of tobacco offset that decline.
Another group of researchers looking at a different kind of smoking said that many teens in treatment for substance abuse may have used medical marijuana that was intended for someone else. That's called "diverted" medical marijuana, says HealthDay. The study surveyed teens enrolled in two adolescent substance abuse treatment programs in Denver. The findings showed that 74 percent of 14 to 18 year olds in the programs used diverted medical marijuana an average of 50 times.
A study on women's birth control preferences found that more U.S. women are opting for intrauterine devices (IUDs), although they still lag far behind condoms and the pill in terms of popularity. According to the Chicago Tribune, researchers said they're unsure what's behind the shift, but did note that IUDs are "substantially" more effective than pills or condoms, noting that the unplanned pregnancy rate for the contraceptive is between 0.2 and 0.8 percent. Just using a condom, said the authors, ups that risk to between 18 and 21 percent.
On the heart health front, the CDC reports that 47 percent of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease, including hypertension, bad cholesterol levels and smoking habits. HealthDay says the agency noted an overall decline in risk factors, but also said there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. In 1999, at least 58 of Americans had at least one risk factor for heart disease.
In obesity news, researchers have identified a potential target protein for treating diabetes and unhealthy weight. The study in Cell Metabolism shows that when the target protein was disabled in mice, the animals became more sensitive to insulin and were less likely to get fat even when they ate a high-fat diet. That could eventually be good news for folks who are obese with diabetes; in the meantime, HealthDay reports another study's findings that says even modest weight loss can give obese people a decade's worth of health benefits, including a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Until then, inspire kids when they're young: Another study says parents who want to increase the amount of exercise their kids get should start exercising more themselves. HealthDay says the study's authors noted the positive correlation between parent and child activity levels, saying that for every 1,000 additional steps taken by a mother, her child took 196 more steps.
Finally, if you're looking to buy cantaloupes or onions, be aware that the Oxnard-based Gills Onions and North Carolina-based cantaloupe-growers Burch Equipment LLC have withdrawn batches of their products, citing concerns about listeria contamination. The good news: No one's gotten sick yet, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Photo by e-Magine Art via Flickr Creative Commons.