Drug Treatments Pay for Themselves

Published Online: Monday, November 1, 2004

A study, commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, showed that treating high blood pressure would save lives and be cost-effective. The study concluded that treating all cases of uncontrolled high blood pressure among Medicare beneficiaries would save >75,000 lives by avoiding heart attacks and strokes. Conducted by the Wisconsin-based Milliman Consultants and Actuaries, the report indicated that when the new Medicare prescription drug benefit takes effect in 2006, active and continuous drug treatment of 19 million untreated and undertreated high blood pressure patients would result in 115,000 fewer cases of stroke and 106,000 fewer incidences of heart attacks and other coronary "events."

Treatment for high blood pressure includes diuretics, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Individuals can also prevent and reverse high blood pressure with diet and exercise. The study showed that drug treatments would basically pay for themselves. "The ?no additional medical costs' result is based on actuarial methods where the expense increase due to active hypertension treatment using prescription drug therapy is identically offset by reduced medical expenses associated with stroke and coronary artery disease events," the report said.

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