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The cost of prescription drugs -- a comparison of 2 countries
Date:10/31/2012

(Boston) - In the United States, the cost paid for statins (drugs to lower cholesterol) in people under the age of 65 who have private insurance continues to exceed comparable costs paid by the government in the United Kingdom (U.K.) by more than three fold. These results from Boston University's Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, are a follow up of an ongoing comparison of prescription drug costs between the U.S. and U.K. The initial results reported on relative drug costs in 2005. The current updated results for 2009 appear this week in the journal Pharmacotherapy.

In a comparable base population of about 1.2 million people in each country, the estimated number prescribed a statin increased from 103,000 in 2005 to 125,000 in the U.S. in 2009 and from to 67,000 to105,000 in the U.K. The total estimated cost for statins in the U.S. paid by private health insurance companies was $87 million in 2005. In July 2006, simvastin (Zocor) was made available in a generic formulation and became the most widely prescribed statin. The cost per pill fell from $3.91 in 2005 to $0.20 in 2009. As a result, despite the increase in number of statin users in the U.S. the total private insurance cost for all statins fell from an estimated $87 million in 2005 to $47 million in 2009. In the U.K., where costs are paid for by the government and generic statins were widely available and prescribed, the total statin cost was estimated to be $17 million in 2005. Because the cost of generic statins continued to be reduced the total cost fell to $14 million in 2009 despite a large increase in the number of users.

Cost estimates for Proton Pump Inhibitors show a similar pattern to those for statins. The total cost for continuous users was estimated to be $14 million in the U.S. compared to $4 million in the U.K. in 2005. Costs in both countries fell about 20 percent in 2009 as generic formulations became more available at lower cost.

In the U.S
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Contact: Gina DiGravio
gina.digravio@bmc.org
617-638-8480
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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