Prescriptions Lose Priority as Economy Worsens

With a dwindling economy, Americans are assessing their budget and looking to cut costs in any area of their life, but will they compromise their health?

It appears so, yes.

With mounting food, fuel and housing costs, prescription drugs are an expense that is shifting from a need to a want.

According to Pfizer (Stock Quote: PFE), third-quarter drug sales in the U.S. dropped 13% in a  year. Meanwhile data released by IMS Health, a research firm that tracks prescriptions, also indicates a decrease in medicine buying: For the first time in a decade, the levels of U.S. prescription drug sales failed to increase in the first eight months of this year.

Many Americans are taking risks by skimping out on their prescription medications or rationing them out over an extended period. For example, a patient expected to take a prescription every day may spread a 30-day prescription to 40 days.

“People are having to choose between gas, meals and medication,” Dr. James King, the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the New York Times, which published a reaction to the IMS data.

ONE WAY TO CUT MEDICAL COSTS
One way to cut costs is by considering generic versions. And while not all prescription drugs have a cheaper generic alternative at this time, the patents on many without is set to expire by the end of next year.

In the meantime, that might not be soon enough. Short of some economic stimulus check, some folks are already avoiding the doctor's. altogether According to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than a third of Americans have delayed seeking medical attention in the past year because of the cost. That could spell trouble. As Sherry Giled, an economist at Columbia University, recently told the Kaiser foundation:  "When people cut back on preventive care they're really cutting back on their own lives and health."

DO YOU THINK PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?

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