Express Scripts 1999 drug trend report: Seniors hit hardest by record 17.4-Percent prescription drug spending increase

e average seven prescriptions per year consumed by those younger than 65. The per-member-per-year cost difference between the two age groups was even greater: $1,185 vs. $267.

Also reported were findings, some of the first using pharmacy claims data, on how seniors responded to caps placed on their pharmacy benefit. Researchers found that, compared to seniors who did not exceed their prescription caps, seniors who had exceeded their plan's spending cap were significantly more likely to have stopped taking medicines across the 11 therapy categories most utilized by seniors. These categories were predominantly represented by therapies used to treat chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

The risk of discontinuation was greatest among therapy categories used to treat cardiovascular disease, such as calcium channel blockers, antihyperlipidemics, and beta-blockers. Additionally, researchers found that, for a majority of therapy classes, less than half of those who stopped therapy resumed therapy once the benefit became available again the following year.

"Because seniors depend so heavily on prescription drugs, bear some of the highest costs and have such complex utilization patterns, providing them with prescription drug coverage is one of the biggest challenges currently on the pharmacy landscape," said Barrett Toan, chief executive officer of Express Scripts.

"Express Scripts believes there should be a prescription benefit for seniors, either through Medicare or some other initiative, but it should be understandable and simple to administer, and it should encourage cost-effective behavior by the beneficiary," he added.

Release of the Express Scripts 1999 Drug Trend Report and the senior prescription utilization study findings came during the company's annual Outcomes Conference, where more than 700 employer, managed care, medical and pharmacy benefit participants are reviewing the latest developme

Contact: Ryan Soderstrom
Kupper Parker Communications

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