Spending on Prescription Drugs in United States, Canada Increased 11% in 2003
Prescription drug spending in the United States and Canada in 2003 increased 11% from a year earlier to $230 billion and accounted for about half of total worldwide drug sales, according to data released on Monday by IMS Health, the Washington Post reports. Worldwide prescription drugs sales reached almost $500 billion in 2003, and the anti-cholesterol drugs Lipitor and Zocor, antidepressants Zyprexa and Zoloft and heartburn treatments Nexium and Prevacid each had sales of more than $3 billion, according to the IMS data. New treatments and customers, increased usage and higher prices contributed to a "robust" year for pharmaceutical companies in 2003, Murray Aitken, a senior vice president at IMS, said. Aitken said that pharmaceutical companies increased sales in 2003 "despite increased pressure from patients, politicians and large corporations to constrain drug costs," the Post reports. "It bears reflecting that despite efforts to limit growth, the demand for the products continues to be very strong," Aitken said. According to the Post, many health care purchasers have shifted more of the cost of prescription drugs to consumers to help control spending. "That is affecting people's behavior in a number of ways," Aitken said, adding, "They may be more likely to take a generic alternative or they may decide not to have a prescription filled or they reduce their own doses" to decrease costs (Connolly, Washington Post, 3/16).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.