Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trends In Prescription Drugs

13 Huge Trends In America's Prescription Drug Habit, Business Insider, April 21, 2011

We're spending more on drugs (although growth is trending down):

The government is paying a larger share of this spending over time - private payers' (insurance companies or our wallets) share is declining while public payers' (Medicare and Medicaid) share is increasing:

If we want to phase out public healthcare spending (e.g. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, "The Path to Prosperity") we're moving in the wrong direction.

Here are the drugs we're buying. These are name brands. They aren't entirely representative of our habits since 78% of the drugs we buy are now generics (which is contributing to the downward growth in the first graph).

Top 15 drugs in America (highest grossing, by prescription):
  1. Lipitor (statin, lowers cholesterol)
  2. Nexium (heartburn)
  3. Plavix (prevents blood clots)
  4. Advair Diskus (asthma)
  5. Abilify (antipsychotic)
  6. Seroquel (antipsychotic)
  7. Singulair (asthma)
  8. Crestor (statin, lowers cholesterol)
  9. Actos (diabetes)
  10. Epogen (anemia from kidney disease)
  11. Remicade (Crohn's, rheumatoid arthritis)
  12. Embrel (arthritis)
  13. Cymbalta (antipsychotic)
  14. Avastin (cancer)
  15. Oxycontin (pain)
Here's the IMS Institute report, "The Use Of Medicines In The United States: Review of 2010" (pdf). I saw the article before the report. I think the report gives a better feel for how and why growth is slowing. In fact, here are two charts in the report (but not the article) I found interesting:

IMS says:
"This may reflect the enduring effects of the macroeconomy, high unemployment levels and rising healthcare costs; it may also include more patients losing coverage and others managing spending carefully."
Have you put off a visit to a healthcare provider because of cost?


More prescriptions were written for antidepressants than for any other drug in 2006, 2007, and 2008. In 2009 and 2010 lipid drugs squeezed past them, but barely. We need to give mental health a bigger spotlight.


Anonymous said...

The stigma of mental illness is alive and well. People will tell you until they're blue in the face all about their cholesterol, heart troubles and back pain but no one talks about panic attacks and depression. Not unless they're whispering in the corner. Did you see that tranquilizers and sedatives were listed separately? Add all the mental drugs up and mental illness is probably the most medicated condition in the country.

Bix said...

It's true. Hard to say whether that's disease mongering or people who accept a short amplitude of emotion or docs who want to disengage from a patient or tried-and-true illness. But the drugs are flying.