Number of Americans using $100,000 in medicines per year triples

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As someone who has been fortunate in not having to take any medications on a regular basis, I was flabbergasted when I saw this interview on CNBC the other morning. But it definitely makes me rethink what I eat, drink, how much I weigh and every other aspect of my health so that I don’t have to start a regimen of pill-taking.

Among the 140,000 patients whose costs reached $100,000 or higher:

  • More than one-third were being treated for ten or more different medical conditions. The most common co-morbidities included high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression.
  • The use of antidepressants was more than twice as prevalent as it is in the general population.
  • Approximately 60% took 10 or more different medications.
  • Approximately 72% had prescriptions written from at least four prescribers.
  • 58% of the population were Baby Boomers, aged 51-70.
  • Men represent 56% of patients with annual prescription costs exceeding $100,000.

Additionally, more than a half-million U.S. patients had medication costs in excess of $50,000 in 2014, an increase of 63% from the prior year, as doctors prescribed more expensive specialty drugs for diseases such as cancer and hepatitis C.

Read more below on total costs, high cost categories and for the link to the full report.

The total cost to health plans for U.S. patients with prescription drug expenses in excess of $50,000 was $52 billion in 2014., Express Scripts said in its

Among baby boomers aged 51 to 70 in the high-cost category, 77% were being treated for hepatitis C, for which costly new cures were introduced last year. 50% were being treated for cancer, for which several expensive new drugs were approved in the last two years. The new drugs for those diseases alone can cost upwards of $90,000 per patient.

Link to the Express Scripts report: “Super Spending: Trends in High-Cost Medication Use” here.

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