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Where is the Drug Money Going?

By March 14, 2011Commentary

A new Statistical Brief based on the MEPS data examines adult prescription drug spending for the year 2008.   (AHRQ Brief) The Brief identifies five classes of drugs accounting for $155 billion in spending that year, or about 67% of all spending on drugs in 2008.  Those classes are metabolic, with $52 billion in spending; central nervous system with $35 billion; cardiovascular with $29 billion; gastrointestinal with $20 billion and psychotropics with $20 billion.

About two-thirds of adults had at least prescription drug expense during the year and of those two-thirds, 46% had a CNS prescription and 41% had a cardiovascular one.  So about 30% of Americans filled a CNS prescription during 2008.  Metabolic drugs accounted for the highest level of expense, however, at around 21% of total spending.  GI had the highest average expense per prescription–$133, which was more than three times the cost of the lowest average, cardiovascular at $39 per prescription.  Metabolic was at $101 and psychotropic at $99.  Interesting data.

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