More Insured People Use Rx Drugs for Chronic Diseases
The percentage of U.S. adults taking prescription drugs to treat health conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and hypertension increased significantly between 2000 and 2006, according to a study released on Tuesday by Express Scripts, USA Today reports.
For the study, researchers analyzed prescription drug use data for three million insured adults in 40 states (Appleby, USA Today, 2/13).
According to the study, the percentage of people taking cholesterol drugs increased from 6.1% in 2000 to 13.2% in 2006; the percentage taking diabetes drugs increased from 3.1% to 5.5% during that time period; and the percentage taking blood pressure medications increased from 8% to 14.1% (USA Today graphic, 2/13).
Increases in the use of drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, stomach problems and depression raised health care costs by 50%, or $12 billion, from 2000 to 2006, the study found.
The researchers said that higher use of prescription drugs might result in future cost savings by preventing heart attacks, strokes or other serious problems.
The study also found that some differences in prescription drug use might be linked to health factors in states, such as smoking rates, diet and exercise. The study found:
- States with high rates of obesity, including Mississippi and West Virginia, had high use of cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure medications;
- Diabetes drug use in Mississippi was nearly double that in Minnesota;
- Michigan had the highest rate of cholesterol drug use at 13.7%, while Oregon had the lowest at 9.4%; and
- About 18% of Utah residents were prescribed an antidepressant, compared with about 9% of New York residents.
In addition, the researchers found that the use of painkillers and estrogen drugs declined amid safety concerns about the drugs (USA Today, 2/13).
The study report is available online (.pdf). 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.