Rx spending up for American kids

November 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

Spending on prescription drugs for infants, children, adolescents and young adults has increased by 85% during the last five years.

Spending on prescription drugs for infants, children, adolescents and young adults has increased by 85% during the last five years, with spending in some categories of pediatric prescriptions soaring by more than 600%, according to research released in conjunction with Franklin Lakes, NJ-based Medco Health Solutions' 2002 Drug Trend Report. According to the study, young patients surpassed senior citizens and baby boomers as the fastest-growing segment of prescription drug consumers in 2001.

According to the research, which reviewed the prescription drug use of half a million people under age 19, the one-year rise in prescription spending per patient was 28% in 2001 for the under-19 age group, compared with 23% in the 35-to-49 age group and less than 10% in the 65-and-older age group.

Factors driving the increase

The three primary drivers of drug spending in the under-19 age group were asthma drugs, allergy drugs and anti-infectives, followed by neurological/psychological treatments and dermatologics.

"Increased diagnosis rates and new medicines are two key areas contributing to the higher cost and increased utilization of prescription drugs, providing more effective treatment and significantly improving the quality of life for America's children," said Robert Epstein, chief medical officer for Medco Health. "The good news is that parents and pediatricians have become much more active in recognizing illness in children and pursuing treatment." PR

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