Prescription Drug Dependence: Implication and Cost


Doctor_Themed_Cupcakes_4576733748While prescription drug is meant to remedy acute and chronic diseases, it is not intended as a replacement for healthy living. For the majority of Americans, however, the replacement stance is becoming the rule.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans spent $234 billion for prescription drugs in 2008. The figure was a twofold increase from spending for the same kind of drugs in 1999.

The upward trend in spending was attributed to the fact that one in every five children and nine in every 10 adults in the country used at least one prescription drug in 2008.

The rise in the usage of prescription drugs was linked to aging and obesity.

In 2010, 38.6 percent, one in every five Americans was at least 65 years old. The elderly population is prone to degenerative diseases like diabetes.

In 2007-2008, 34.2 percent of Americans at least 20 years old were obese while 5.7 percent were considered morbidly obese. Obesity is tied to the growing number of Type 2 diabetic patients.

In 2010, roughly 1.9 million Americans at least 20 years old were diagnosed with diabetes for the first time. With the spike in number of obese Americans, there was also an upsurge in diabetes diagnosis.

Also in the same year, diabetes therapy is considered the main driver of prescription drug trend. Americans spent a whooping $194 billion on diabetes-related spending. Diabetic patients accounted for a quarter of hospital spending among Americans. In 2009, average cost for a diabetic patient was at $11,700 contrasted to the $4,400 for the rest of the population. Spending on diabetes medication is expected to reach $500 billion in 2020.

Because of the economic value of the diabetic market and the increasing dependence of the majority of Americans to prescription drug, a wave of new, all-powerful-touting drugs have also entered the market. Only to be discovered later that they cause more harm than good like in the case of Actos and Avandia, now linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

We all know that Type 2 diabetes constitute the 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, and the said disease is predominantly caused by poor lifestyle choices. It is but rational to be more judicious and go after a healthier routine than take in a diabetic pill.

Moreover, projected diabetes-related expenses can be lowered if lifestyle interventions are practiced. According to the United Health Center for Health Reform and Modernization, lifestyle interventions can account for $250 billion in reduction in medical cost, and a return of $239 billion through productivity.

As the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), an extensive clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), put it, lifestyle interventions are far beneficial and less costly than medications. Some people may still need diabetic drugs, but the count will be less if only Americans treat prescription drugs, especially those for diabetes, as designed for emergency needs rather than as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle.


Photo Credit: Clever Cupcakes

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