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A glimmer of hope on opiods

The number of new opioid prescriptions is falling while the number of new prescriptions for medication-assisted therapy to treat opioid addictions is slowly starting to rise, according to a new IQVIA paper.

Reproduced from IQVIA Institute, "Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S."; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: We've barely scratched the surface when it comes to reversing the opioid epidemic, but both of these statistics are good news. They suggest that providers are cutting back on unnecessary opioid prescriptions, while more people addicted to opioids are on the path to recovery.

Bob Herman Apr 20
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The $1.3 billion Blue Cross Blue Shield windfall

Health Care Service Corp. headquarters building in Chicago.
Health Care Service Corp. headquarters in Chicago. Photo: Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Health Care Service Corp., the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in five states, pulled in nearly $1.3 billion of profit in 2017 — which included large gains on its Affordable Care Act plans in the individual market. Crain's Chicago Business first reported the financials.

Why it matters: This builds on our previous reporting that many health insurance companies, like HCSC, fared quite well in 2017 despite the political wars in D.C.

Next generation of fertility treatments

Illustration of egg and sperm
Illustration: Caresse Haaser/Axios

From genetic testing to attempts to grow viable eggs from stems cells, researchers are trying to improve the success rate of fertility treatments and cut their cost.

Why it matters: About 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. experience fertility problems, resulting in a multibillion dollar industry. The next-generation of fertility treatments has the potential to change who can have children and when but they are still in the early stages of development and have high hurdles to clear.