Physicians Opt for Costlier Drugs

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Researchers have found that many times physiciansprescribe newer, more expensive high bloodpressure drugs over the ones recommended undermedical guidelines, costing the nation >$1 billion ayear. The study, reported in the Journal of the AmericanMedical Association (April 21, 2004), used datafrom Pennsylvania's drug-assistance program. Theresearchers reviewed >133,000 patients who filled>2 million prescriptions in 2001.

The study found that about 40% of the time, thephysicians ordered different medications than thosecalled for under medical guidelines. The result was a$48.5-million prescription bill for the state. Also, gettingphysicians to prescribe preferred treatmentswould have saved the state $11.6 million in 2001.Theresearchers uncovered that calcium channel blockersaccounted for the most spending, about $17 million,with an average cost of $33.39 for a prescription.On the other hand, diuretics called thiazides, the leastexpensive drugs, cost $5.33 a prescription. Thiazidesare used as the first-line treatment in patients withhypertension without other complications, accordingto recommendations by the Joint National Committeeon Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatmentof High Blood Pressure.