Health care debates continue to center around the role of the pharmaceutical industry & prescription drugs in cost of care. With consumer driven health plans growing in popularity, will consumption of “unnecessary” but costly prescriptions go down? Or, do we have a hard time telling what is necessary? This report from US News Health shows an alarming statistic: most of our prescriptions are designated to treat general pain and “lifestyle diseases” such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
Health Buzz: America’s Most Popular Drugs
By Angela Haupt
Americans are aching, aging, and overweight—or so prescription drug sales suggest. The top 10 most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States include painkillers, anti-diabetes pills, statins used to treat high cholesterol, and blood-pressure-lowering drugs. That’s according to the latest report on U.S. medication use, published Tuesday by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. More than 131 million prescriptions were dispensed for hydrocodone, the generic form of the painkiller Vicodin, last year, making it the best-selling drug. For the first time, all top 10 drugs were generics; these medicines, which are cheaper than brand-name drugs, now make up 78 percent of dispensed prescriptions. That shift contributed to a slowdown in drug spending, which increased only 2.3 percent in 2010, compared to 5.1 percent in 2009. At the same time, the number of patients starting new drug treatments for chronic conditions declined by 3.4 million. “This has the potential to impact patients’ health,” Michael Kleinrock, the institute’s director of research development, told the Associated Press. “If they’re delaying necessary care, that could be pretty bad for their health.”
Full article here.