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Diabetes, cholesterol, and anti-obesity drugs top spending

U.S. adult consumers spent nearly $36 billion for prescription drugs to lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, or help with other metabolic problems in 2005. The four other classes of drugs that topped spending among adults were:

  • Cardiovascular drugs, for reducing high blood pressure and treating heart conditions ($33 billion).
  • Central nervous system drugs, which include pain killers, sleep aid medications and medications for attention deficit disorder ($26 billion).
  • Antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs ($17 billion).
  • Gastrointestinal drugs including antacids and laxatives ($15 billion).
  • Purchases of these five top classes of drugs totaled $127 billion in 2005—nearly two-thirds of the total $199 billion spent on all outpatient prescription medicines.

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 The Top Therapeutic Classes of Outpatient Prescription Drugs Ranked by Total Expense for Adults Age 18 and Older in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2005, Statistical Brief #198, on the MEPS Web site http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/publications.jsp.

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