A Dip in Drug Spending

Growth slows in first quarter of 2003, report says

THURSDAY, June 5, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The mild flu season and increased use of cheaper generic drugs caused the growth of prescription drug spending to slow to 11.3 percent in the first quarter of 2003, says a report by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.

Safety concerns raised by studies last year also resulted in lower use of estrogen drugs during the first quarter, the report notes.

In the first quarter of 2002, drug spending increased by 16.9 percent. The drug spending data was presented recently at Express Scripts annual research Outcomes Conference held in St. Louis.

During the first quarter of 2003, 47 percent of all prescription claims processed by Express Scripts were for generic drugs, an increase of 43 percent over the first quarter of 2002.

The report also says that during the first quarter of this year, there was a sharp increase in the use of some common drugs. For examples, use of blood pressure medications increased 10.6 percent, drugs to treat high cholesterol increased 14.1 percent and diabetes medications increased 14.5 percent.

Other research presented at the conference said doctors rely on information given to them about potential safety hazards involving prescriptions they've written. The research found 38 percent of doctors said they changed or modified patient therapy as a result of such information.

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SOURCE: Express Scripts, news release, June 3, 2003
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