Aging medications cost more than most chronic disease treatments

Newswise — San Francisco, Calif., – The cost of searching for the fountain of youth has become increasingly expensive and now exceeds the cost for medications used to treat chronic disease, according to new research released this week at the American Public Health Association’s 140th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.

The research suggests that cost and utilization of medications to treat conditions considered a normal part of aging, including those related to hormone replacement therapy, sexual dysfunction and mental alertness, are becoming so popular that they now rank third for cost impact only behind diabetes and cholesterol among commercially insured patients.

Researchers at Express Scripts in St. Louis looked at trends in prescriptions filled for aging medications among those commercially insured and found that in 2011 alone, per member cost for aging medications ($73.30) was 16 percent greater than the amount spent on both high blood pressure and heart disease medications ($62.80). The cost for diabetes medications was $81.12 and high cholesterol medications was $78.38. The cost for aging medications increased 46 percent from 2006.

Between 2007 and 2011, utilization among Medicare beneficiaries for these conditions increased 32 percent. Utilization increased by 18.5 percent among the commercially insured.

“At a time when people are forgoing care due to rising health costs, this study reveals a growing trend on where the public is placing its healthcare dollars,” said Reethi Iyengar, PhD, researcher at Express Scripts and an APHA Annual Meeting presenter. “Continued monitoring and potential management may be warranted for this category of medications.”

Study results are based on Express Scripts claims data from 2006-2011 for commercially insured members and 2007-2011 for Medicare beneficiaries.

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