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New MEPS chartbook reports on expenditures for outpatient prescription drugs in 2003

A new 40-page report, which uses data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), summarizes overall outpatient prescription medicine spending, presents data for various population groups including the Medicare population, and analyzes expenses for outpatient prescription drugs by therapeutic class. Some key findings include the following:

  • Overall outpatient prescription drug expenses for the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population grew from $65.3 billion in 1996 to $177.7 billion in 2003—a 172 percent increase.
  • Outpatient prescription drugs' share of all health care spending rose from 12 percent to 20 percent from 1996 to 2003.
  • The top five classes of prescribed outpatient drugs, when ranked by total expenses, in 2003 were cardiovascular agents, hormones, central nervous system agents, psychotherapeutic drugs, and antihyperlipidemic medicines.

More details can be found in MEPS Chartbook No. 16: Outpatient Prescription Drug Expenses in the U.S. Community Population, 2003, on the MEPS Web site at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/cb16/cb16.pdf. [PDF Help]

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