PHARMACY

Drug costs decline but remain high for many families, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — While the financial burden that families face due to prescription drugs has declined, costs nevertheless remain a challenge for many of them, according to a new study by nonprofit research organization Rand Corp.

The study, published in the February issue of the journal Health Affairs, found that more than 8 million non-elderly Americans lived in families facing high drug costs in 2008, with a quarter devoting more than half of their out-of-pocket medical spending on prescription drugs. Overall, the percentage of people with a high financial burden for prescription drugs increased from 1999 to 2003, went down between 2003 and 2007 and increased slightly in 2008. In 1999, about 3% of non-elderly Americans lived in families that spent more than 10% of their income on prescription drugs, while nearly 27% lived in families where more than half of all out-of-pocket healthcare costs were spent on drugs. By 2003, those figures had risen to 4% and 33.6%, respectively, subsequently falling to 3.1% and 25.4% by 2008.

The study found that while spending on prescription drugs accounts for 10% of all healthcare spending in the United States, out-of-pocket costs for doors make up a much larger percentage of health spending by individuals, especially among low-income people with government-provided insurance and those with such chronic diseases as diabetes.

"Our findings are evidence of the success of strategies already in place to help lower the cost of medications for consumers, even during a period when medication use was increasing," lead study author Walid Gellad said. "But the burden of drug costs remains high for many Americans, which is an important issue for policy-makers to consider as health reform extends insurance coverage to more people."

The researchers found that the main reason for the decrease in drug costs was that the increased use of generic drugs as health plans over the last decade have encouraged their use and generic versions of more drugs have become available.


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PHARMACY

CVS’ Project Health to deliver more than $21M worth of preventive health screenings

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy announced on Wednesday the launch of Project Health (Proyecto Salud in Spanish), a wellness program delivering more than $21 million worth of free health screenings to multicultural communities.

The program, which aims to prevent disease through early detection, grew from CVS/pharmacy’s To Your Health/A Su Salud campaigns. This year, Project Health will offer an array of free comprehensive health risk assessments and screenings during five disease-specific national health awareness months, from American Heart Month (February) to Diabetes Awareness Month (November). More than 1,000 Project Health events are scheduled for 2012 in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Events are also planned at CVS/pharmacy locations in Puerto Rico.

"We know that for a variety of reasons multicultural populations have difficulty accessing and benefitting from preventive care," saidTroyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer at CVS Caremark. "Making this issue even more disconcerting, these same patients disproportionately suffer from certain treatable conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Through Project Health, CVS/pharmacy will work to achieve better health outcomes among multicultural populations and is once again making the commitment to helping people on their path to better health."

Project Health is a part of efforts by CVS/pharmacy to improve access to preventive care and ensure that cost is not a barrier to important services, such as professional health assessments and screenings. Project Health events, while offered to address and raise awareness of ethnic health disparities, are open to everyone and will not require an appointment.

Medical personnel will be on hand to provide diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and osteoporosis screenings and examine patients for oral care issues. Referrals for mammograms and pap smears also will be provided, as well as consultations with nurse practitioners and CVS pharmacists. A selection of screenings will be available at each event.

Once screened, CVS/pharmacy will help patients through on-site consultations with bilingual (Spanish/English) nurse practitioners who will analyze the results and refer patients to no-cost or low-cost medical facilities within that neighborhood or to their primary care physician should additional follow-up be required.

In 2011, CVS/pharmacy provided free and low-cost medical screenings and services valued at $150 per person through the To Your Health/A Su Salud programs. More than 162,000 people were screened during last year’s events. Of the individuals screened, many health concerns were discovered, including:

  • 57% had at least one abnormal screening result;

  • 48% had at least one abnormal risk factor for heart disease;

  • 42% had risk factors for osteoporosis; and

  • 27% had abnormal glucose readings.

The Project Health events will be held at designated CVS/pharmacy locations on weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. daily with no appointment necessary during American Heart Month (February), National Minority Health Month (April), Immunization Awareness Month (August), Dental Hygiene Awareness Month (October) and Diabetes Awareness Month (November).


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PHARMACY

Takeda launches Edarbyclor

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Takeda Pharmaceutical has launched a drug for treating high blood pressure in adults, the company said.

Takeda announced the availability of Edarbyclor (azilsartan medoxomil and chlorthalidone), a once-daily tablet for the condition, also known as hypertension.

"February is American Hearth Month, and it’s important to recognize that nearly 40% of hypertension patients are not at their blood pressure targets, putting them at increased cardiovascular risk," Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. president Douglas Cole said. "We’re pleased to bring Edarbyclor to market and expand the Edarbi family of products to help appropriate patients with hypertension work towards reaching their blood pressure goals."


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