Even As US Drug Spending Fell — For The First Time In A Half-Century

. . .Medical treatment/drug decision making waste still proliferated.

Do go read all of this fine article from the Memphis (Tennessee) Business Journal, but the papers nationwide were full of the news that — for the first time in decades, prescription drug spending declined in the United States in 2012. That is due to the rise of generics, and health care reform — the ACA of 2010 — beginning to kick in (as well as, to a lesser extent, the still-slow to recover economy).

Even though this is good news, we must not lose sight of the fact that — especially among the nation’s poorest patients — those receiving Medicaid — we still waste nearly $56 billion a year. And that is money that could be used to improve care, for all Medicaid recipients, in a more effective manner.

Do go read Cole Epley’s article — but here is a bit:

. . . .Per capita costs related to wasteful prescription spending totalled $1,623 in Mississippi, which led the nation in terms of per capita costs; Mississippians also earn the lowest per capita personal income of all 50 states, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. [Arkansas wasted $1,442 per person per year, and Tennessee wasted $1,434 per person per year — also among the nation’s most-poor states. . . .]

Express Scripts defined waste as “extra medication-related spending that provided no additional clinical benefit.” Data suggested $55.8 billion was spent on high-priced medications when more cost-effective generics could have been used, for instance. . . .

“Our nation pays a huge price for bad medication-related decisions, and it is clear that the price is even more costly for those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum,” Steve Miller, chief medical officer at Express Scripts, said in a release. The data showed per capita costs were the highest in the Southeast. . . .

We will keep you posted on the trendlines — as Obamacare takes hold here in 2013. And to tie this back to Merck, I’d think specifically about Vytorin®, and newly-approved Liptruzet® when I think of expensive branded drugs which are providing no demonstrated additional clinical benefit.

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