Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archival print banner

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

The United States Spends Nearly $1 Billion on Blood-Thinners for Adults

AHRQ News and Numbers, November 12, 2009

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

Third-party payers and patients spent $900 million in 2007 on outpatient prescriptions for adults for anticoagulant drugs, more commonly known as blood thinners, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Anticoagulant medications, also called blood thinners, help prevent blood clots which can cause serious medical problems such as strokes, heart attacks, or pulmonary embolisms, which occur when one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked, in most cases by blood clots that travel from another part of the body.

The Federal agency found that 4.2 million Americans age 18 and older used a blood thinner in 2007. The average expenditure and average out-of-pocket payment for a brand name blood thinner was $65 and $29, respectively, and generics were $18 and $7, respectively.

AHRQ also found that:

  • About 10 percent of Americans 75 and older and 6 percent of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 used one or more blood thinners in 2007. In contrast, less than 1 percent of people younger than 65 used a blood thinner.
  • About 74 percent of adults on blood thinners had a heart-related condition; 40 percent had undergone surgery that year; and about 30 percent had cancer or diabetes.
  • Of the nearly 28 million prescriptions filled by pharmacists, 19.3 million were for generic blood thinners and 8.5 million were for brand-name drugs.

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 Outpatient Prescription Anticoagulants Utilization and Expenditures for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population Age 18 and Older, 2007.

AHRQ has produced a new DVD, "Staying Healthy and Active with Taking Blood Thinners," for clinicians and patients on how to use anti-coagulant drugs safely and effectively.

To view the video, go to:

To order the DVD, which may be played in English or Spanish, E-mail or call 1-800-358-9295. Bulk supplies of the DVD and accompanying bilingual pamphlet are available free of charge up to certain limits.

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

Current as of November 2009
Internet Citation: The United States Spends Nearly $1 Billion on Blood-Thinners for Adults: AHRQ News and Numbers, November 12, 2009. November 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care