Drug Costs for Mentally Ill Likely to Double in Alameda County Jails
Drug costs for mentally ill inmates in Alameda County jails are likely to double this year as newer, more expensive medications are being prescribed more frequently, the Oakland Tribune reports. The increase "came to light" Tuesday during an Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting in which the board approved an increase in its contract with the drug supplier Secure Pharmacy Plus from $422,000 to $900,000. According to Doug Del Paggio, director of pharmacy services for county Behavioral Health Care Services, there is a "whole new class of antipsychotic medications on the market in the last five years that have revolutionized the treatment" of mental illnesses. But while "older drugs" such as Haldol, an antipsychotic, cost between $5 and $10, new treatments such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel range from $175 to $300 for a month supply. Del Paggio, along with Dave Kears, director of the county Health Care Services Agency, said that it "makes sense" to give inmates the "better drugs, despite the high costs." Del Paggio said, "In the long term, as people stay on [the newer drugs], they'll improve and they'll be able to stay out of the criminal justice system and keep their symptoms under control." County health officials say they will meet over the next five months to determine "more efficient and less costly" ways to provide psychotropic medication to mentally ill inmates (Horowitz, Oakland Tribune, 2/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.