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Drug coverage under Medicare leads to increased use of antibiotics
Date:8/10/2010

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 10 Improved drug coverage under Medicare Part D has led to an increase in the use of antibiotics by seniors, particularly of brand-name and more expensive drugs, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study. Published in the Aug. 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine and the first to explore spending on antibiotics under Medicare Part D, the study suggests recent changes in drug coverage improved the use of antibiotics for pneumonia, but could lead to unnecessary spending on expensive broad-spectrum antibiotics and the overuse of inappropriate antibiotics.

"Overuse of antibiotics is a common and important problem that can lead to medical complications and drug resistance," said the study's lead author, Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of health economics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. "One of the key questions we sought to answer with our study is how improved prescription drug coverage under Part D affects the usage of these drugs."

The study included more than 35,000 Medicare beneficiaries and compared their use of antibiotics two years before and after the implementation of Medicare Part D, which reduced out-of-pocket drug spending between 13 and 23 percent. They found that antibiotic use increased most among beneficiaries who lacked drug coverage prior to enrolling in Medicare Part D. Beneficiaries who previously had limited drug coverage also were more likely to fill prescriptions for antibiotics after enrolling in Part D. The largest increases were found in the use of broad-spectrum, newer and more expensive antibiotics.

Researchers also noted that the use of antibiotic treatment for pneumonia trip
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Contact: Clare Collins
CollCX@upmc.edu
412-648-9725
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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