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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Annual Growth in Prescription Drug Spending Slows

May 22, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments
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According to a new report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the growth of prescription drug spending has declined from 14.7% in 2001 to 2.9% in 2011. The annual report also offers a review of other health trends, including mental health and tobacco use. The CDC’s examination of prescription drug use and spending trends found that the rate of U.S. residents who regularly took prescription drugs increased from 39% between 1988 and 1994 to 48% between 2007 and 2010. The report also found that prescription use increased with age. About one out of every four children surveyed took at least one prescription drug during the prior month, while roughly nine in 10 adults age 65 and older were on at least one such medication.

The CDC also found that one in five U.S. residents reported taking at least five prescription drugs in the prior month, raising some concerns about potential drug interactions. The analysis also said that the most widely used medications among U.S. adults were those meant for cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease. The CDC study reported a fourfold increase in antidepressant use among adults, but analysts noted that seeking help for a mental health disorder isn’t as stigmatized as it once was. In addition, companies have introduced more effective antidepressants, and researchers have found that antidepressants also can be used to treat panic and anxiety disorders. The report also found a tripling of overdose deaths due to prescription narcotics. Painkillers taken among people 15 and older caused 6.6 deaths for every 100,000 people in 2009-2010, compared with 1.9 deaths per 100,000 in 1999-2000.