Last year drug costs rose for children, were down for seniors, and CT prescription use was below average

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An annual report on drug costs and utilization by Medco, a pharmacy services company that covers over 60 million people, found that prescription drug costs rose by 3.3% in 2008 fueled mainly by price increases. For the first in ten years, utilization of prescriptions actually decreased (by 1.1%). Use of drugs by children grew by over 4% while use by seniors dropped by more than 1%. However spending on seniors averaged about $1700 per person compared to $200 for children. CT residents used fewer prescriptions per person than the US average, but not in the lowest category of states. Price increases were driven by the 8% rise in costs for brand name drugs, a rate that has climbed steadily over the last four years, compared to prices for generics which rose about 0.5%, a steady rate over time. Another contributor to rising costs was the approval of new high-cost drugs. The reduction in utilization of prescriptions was driven in part by the conversion of Zyrtec and Miralax to over-the-counter status. Use of generics and mail order delivery helped keep overall costs down. The authors expect costs to rise by 3 to 5% this year, 4 to 6% in 2010 and 5 to 7% in 2011. They expect an increase in specialty drugs, even higher inflations for brand name drugs, modest rises in treatment rates, and increased use of genomics to personalize therapies.
Ellen Andrews