Medication for Normal Aging Overtakes Costs of Treating Most Chronic Diseases

A study by Express Scripts reveals that spending on medications for normal aging conditions in 2011 ranked third in annual prescription-drug costs of the commercially insured. These conditions involve mental alertness, sexual dysfunction, menopause, aging skin, and hair loss. This spending was surpassed only by the cost of treating diabetes and high cholesterol.

There was an 18.5% increase in the use of drugs to treat normal aging. Costs increased nearly 46% from 2006 to 2011. Increased use of these drugs was even more pronounced for the Medicare population (age 65+), up 32% from 2007 to 2011. The largest utilization jump among Medicare beneficiaries was from 2010 to 2011, up more than 13% and outpacing increases in the use of drugs for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure combined.

In 2011, more than $73.3 million was spent for every 1 million commercially insured people, and the cost was nearly $90 million per 1 million Medicare members on these aging-related medications. The United States is in the midst of a profound demographic change, with the number of elderly people projected to reach nearly 20% of the entire population by 2030, up from less than 13% in 2009. This increase will continue to drive use and costs of medications to treat the natural conditions of aging.

While utilization and drug costs were highest among older commercially insured people, the greatest growth in cost per insured was seen among the 45 to 54 age group — up almost 21% over the five-year period.  Rules for the new program have been under review by the White House for three months, and officials said they would be issued soon.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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