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The Growing Cost Of Aging: Express Scripts Study Shows Medication Use For Normal Aging Conditions Overtakes Costs Of Treating Most Chronic Diseases

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Prescription-drug treatment regimens for conditions that are a normal part of aging are now costing the nation more than many serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, according to new research from Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080827/EXPRESSSCRIPTSLOGO)

A study, presented today at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) in San Francisco, finds that in 2011 spending on medications for aging conditions — such as mental alertness, sexual dysfunction, menopause, aging skin and hair loss — ranked third in annual prescription-drug costs of the commercially insured, surpassed only by the cost of treating diabetes and high cholesterol.  

The research found that among these insured individuals use of drugs to treat the physical impact associated with normal aging was up 18.5 percent and costs increased nearly 46 percent from 2006 to 2011. Increased use of these drugs was even more pronounced for the Medicare population (age 65+), up 32 percent from 2007 to 2011. The largest utilization jump among Medicare beneficiaries was from 2010 to 2011, up more than 13 percent and outpacing increases in the use of drugs for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure combined.

"There is no doubt that pharmaceutical advances and greater awareness have improved the quality of life for many aging Americans," said Dr. Glen Stettin, Express Scripts senior vice president of Clinical, Research and New Solutions. "What was not known, until now, is the significant cost associated with treating these conditions. Couple that with the proliferation of people living longer and it's clear that monitoring and managing the trend and spend from treating conditions associated with aging will become increasingly important."

In 2011 alone, more than $73.3 million was spent for every 1 million commercially insured individuals, and the cost was nearly $90 million per 1 million Medicare members on these aging-related medications.

The United States is in the midst of a profound demographic change, with the number of elderly people projected to reach nearly 20 percent of the entire population by 2030, up from less than 13 percent in 2009. This increase will continue to drive both use and costs of medications to treat the natural conditions of aging.

The study also showed that while utilization and drug costs were highest among older commercially insured individuals, the greatest growth in cost per insured was seen among the 45 to 54 age group — up almost 21 percent over the five-year period.

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