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Spending on outpatient prescription pain medicines has tripled in 10 years

Research Activities, March 2009, No. 343

Expenditures for outpatient prescription analgesics-commonly known as painkillers and medicines that treat aches and pains-increased from $4.2 billion in 1996 to $13.2 billion in 2006, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ). These medications include narcotic analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and Cox-2 inhibitors, among others. AHRQ also found that for outpatient prescription analgesics from 1996 and 2006:

  • The average annual expenditure jumped from $83 to $232 for people who purchased one or more prescription analgesics
  • For each analgesic purchased, the average expenditure rose from $26 to $57.
  • The total number of prescription purchases increased from about 164 million to 231 million.

The data are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Outpatient Prescription Analgesics Utilization and Expenditures for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 1996 and 2006, MEPS Statistical Brief #235 (http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/).

Current as of March 2009
Internet Citation: Spending on outpatient prescription pain medicines has tripled in 10 years: Research Activities, March 2009, No. 343. March 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/mar09/0309RA21.html