From antibiotic resistance to Zika — top 5 health stories of 2016
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Here are some of the most controversial and interesting healthcare topics of 2016.

1. Antibiotic resistance

As contributor Donnica L. Moore points out, the discovery of antibiotics by Alexander Fleming in 1928 was one of the great medical advances. In less than 100 years, however, this miracle drug has led to a global crisis known as antibiotic resistance, leading to pathogens called superbugs. These pathogens develop a resistance by being exposed to a dosage of antibiotics that allow them to mutate and develop, Moore said.

2. Epi-Pen prices

There was a lot of anger and outrage when Mylan pharmaceuticals announced that it would be increasing the cost of their life-saving epinephrine injection pens to over $600. Paul Howard, a senior fellow and director of Health Policy at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, suggested a cure for the seemingly outrageous price hike: competition. He said, the manufacturer needs more competition in order to reduce the price tag. However, Howard also points out that hurdles by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with its imposed regulatory costs is a major factor.

3. Mental health reform

“I’ve got a cure for mental health issue(s). Spank your children more,” was what Steve Bannon suggested for reforming mental health in America. Dr. Celia Trotta, a board certified psychiatrist, says that this mindset can stigmatize and marginalize people who need the help and assistance. This past year, President Obama signed into law the Mental Health Reform Act, which is part of the 21st Century Cures Act. This law would allocate federal resources and improve treatment programs for mental health and substance abuse.

4. Opioid addiction

Reports from the American Society of Addiction Medicine found that of 20.5 million Americans, 12 or older had a substance use disorder in 2015. The numbers keep growing and one contributing factor, according to Dr. Lynn R. Webster, is a medical literacy problem. Webster believes that “our medical illiteracy allows educated, well-intended people to confuse signs of withdrawal with addiction.”

5. Zika

Zika outbreaks in Miami made headlines this past summer, almost weekly. As of August 2016, over 2,000 cases were reported in the United States. Dr. Thomas Gellhaus and Dr. Didi Saint Louis believed that if the U.S. were truly interested in fighting the outbreak, it should have fully funded comprehensive reproductive healthcare. One major obstacle the doctors found was the law that Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed, which would block access to birth control and health education.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.