A raft of new medicines pushed U.S spending on drugs modestly higher last year up 3.7% from 2010, but the gains were curbed by weak prescription use as Americans avoided doctor visits according to the report from IMS Health (health care information and services company).
Prescription use fell 1.1% nationally on a per capita basis and patient office visits declined by 4.7% overall. The elderly in particular used fewer medicines last year as prescriptions for Americans 65 and older fell 3.1% on a per capita basis with largest reduction among seniors was for medicines to control hypertension. The report suggested that this decrease is due to economic challenges and the continuing pressure by shifting costs in terms of rising insurance premiums, rising co-pays both for visits and for medicines.
Conversely, use of prescription drugs among young adults ages 19 to 25 rose 2% with concentration in therapies for depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The report suggested that this increase is due to the new regulations in the U.S healthcare overhaul law, which allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.
The pharmaceutical industry as a whole launched 34 new drugs last year, the most in more than a decade, according to IMS, especially drugs addressing hepatitis C, stroke, and skin cancer. Overall spending on brand-name medicines rose 2.2% to about $235 billiion.