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Increased Spending Seen for Glaucoma Medications in U.S.

Rise attributed to use of prostaglandin analogs, and changes in insurance coverage

WEDNESDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- Expenditures on glaucoma medications increased significantly in the United States from 2001 to 2006, especially among women, those with public-only insurance, and those with less than a high school education, according to a study published online June 13 in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Byron L. Lam, M.D., from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, and colleagues analyzed the trends of glaucoma medication expenditure in 1,404 individuals, aged 18 years and older, who participated in the U.S. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey between 2001 and 2006. The data were adjusted for survey design, and the expenditure was adjusted for inflation using the 2009 inflation index.

The investigators found there was a significant increase in the average annual glaucoma medication expenditure per individual, from $445 in 2001 to $557 in 2006. During sub-group analysis, the expenditure was found to have increased significantly in women, among those with public-only insurance, and in those with less than a high school education. Expenditure on β-blockers decreased significantly during the survey period, while a significant increase was observed in expenditures on prostaglandin analogs and α-agonists.

"We found trends of significant increased glaucoma medication expenditure from 2001 to 2006, particularly in women, those with public-only insurance, and those with less than a high school education. Main factors for these trends include the increasing use of prostaglandin analogs, changes in insurance coverage, and possibly more aggressive glaucoma treatment," the authors write.

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