Diabetes Seen as Biggest Driver in Increased Spending on Drugs

Statistics from the 2011 Medco Drug Report show that diabetes drugs accounted for 16.1 percent of the overall increase in U.S. spending on therapeutic drugs in 2010. The report states that the increase is due to the growing number of Americans who have diabetes.

The federal government estimates that almost 26 million U.S. residents had diabetes in 2010, and another 79 million had prediabetes-about 35 percent of all U.S. adults. It expects the number of people with diabetes and prediabetes to reach 52 percent of the adult population by 2020.

Within the category of diabetes drugs, insulin accounted for 36 percent of overall costs and 63 percent of total growth. The category generating the second largest percentage of spending growth was respiratory drugs, which grew at 15.1 percent. That category includes drugs for asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.  

New Jersey-based Medco Health Solutions, Inc., is a healthcare company that provides pharmacy services for private and public employers, health plans, labor unions, government agencies, and individuals served by Medicare Part D prescription drug plans-in all, an estimated 65 million people. Its 2009 revenues were reported to be just under $60 billion.


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