Rising drug prices, promising medications for heart disease and cancer among top health stories

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Soaring drug prices and new ways to fight cancer and heart disease were some of the big health stories FOX 4 covered in 2015. Here's a wrap-up:

Doctors discovered the way to greatly reduce the chances of peanut allergy in kids. Feed them peanut foods.

"It seems to desensitize the patient. It makes it so they make a normal immune response to the food they eat," said Dr. Jay Portnoy of Children's Mercy Hospital.

Pediatricians came up with guidelines for introducing peanut foods at 4 to 11 months old for those at risk of that allergy.

An outbreak of measles that started at Disneyland put more focus on timely immunization and put pressure on parents who opt out. Some states passed laws to stop vaccination exemptions.

Controversy also came with new breast cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society. It says mammograms should begin at age 45 instead of 40 in average-risk women. That left some survivors shuddering.

"That I might not have survived or my prognosis would have been much different. Yeah, I don't even want to think about that," said Connie Smith.

Drugs that boost the body's immune system to fight cancer showed promise.

"The light at the end of the tunnel for cancer patients has become much brighter with these immunotherapeutic strategies," said Dr. Joseph McGuirk of the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

There were new options in the battle against heart disease. A new class of drugs clears bad cholesterol from the bloodstream.

"It's amazingly powerful in lowering LDLs and more importantly, it's amazingly safe," said Dr. Patrick Moriarty of the University of Kansas Hospital.
It's also expensive at $14,000 for a year's treatment. But that's nothing compared to the costs of some other drugs like the one that Courtney Eiterich needs for multiple sclerosis.

"I mean, it's outrageous. I mean, who can afford $13,000 out of pocket every month. You can't. So you have to have insurance and if you don't have insurance, I don't know what your options are," said Eiterich.

More doctors and lawmakers criticized drug companies. The founder of one company that hiked the price of a drug by 5,000 percent wound up being arrested on unrelated fraud charges.

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