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Prescription Drug Purchases Increase for Treatment of Digestive Conditions

AHRQ News and Numbers, February 4, 2010

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

The number of Americans buying prescription drugs to treat digestive conditions climbed over 50 percent, rising from 18.1 million to 29 million people between 1997 and 2007, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Total annual spending for these drugs increased from $7 billion to nearly $19 billion from 1997 to 2007 (in 2007 dollars).

Other findings include:

  • The proportion of children ages 17 and younger who had at least one prescription drug for a digestive condition purchased rose from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. This trend held true for seniors, increasing from 18.6 percent to 26.6 percent, and for 18 to 64 year olds, rising from 6.4 percent to 8.9 percent.
  • The total number of prescription drug purchases for digestive conditions more than doubled—rising from 77.8 million to 158.4 million.
  • The average expense per digestive prescription drug purchase increased 33 percent —from $90 to $120 (in 2007 dollars).

The estimates do not include over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs administered in inpatient, physician's office, or clinic settings. AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, improves the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), 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 Trends in Outpatient Prescription Gastrointestinal Agents Purchases and Expenditures for the Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 1997 and 2007.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of February 2010
Internet Citation: Prescription Drug Purchases Increase for Treatment of Digestive Conditions: AHRQ News and Numbers, February 4, 2010. February 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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