News Capsules

Pharmacy TimesSeptember 2010 Pain Awareness
Volume 76
Issue 9

Health Overhaul Not Expected to Reform Spending

The health care reform bill enacted earlier this year will not significantly curb increases in national health spending over the next decade, according to new estimates by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The report updates “pre-reform” projections issued in February 2010, which estimated an average annual growth of 6.1% in health care spending until 2019. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, annual growth in spending is expected to be 6.3%—a moderate increase, according to CMS economists.

“Within these net overall impacts are larger differences for trends in spending and spending growth by payer, attributable to reform’s many major changes to health care coverage and financing,” wrote Andrea Sisko, a CMS economist who authored a report on the findings for the journal Health Affairs. According to the report, the bill’s timeline for implementation will have a varied impact on spending from year to year.

For example, immediate reforms are expected to increase national health spending by $10.2 billion between 2010 and 2013. These include provisions that provide coverage for patients with preexisting conditions and allow children under the age of 26 years to remain on their parents’ insurance plans.

Other measures to expand coverage, such as state-run insurance exchanges and less restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements, will also result in a fasterthan- expected yearly increase in national health care spending. Sisko and colleagues predict spending will slow again from 2015 to 2019, falling to an average annual growth rate of 6.7%—just one tenth of a percentage point lower than what was estimated in February 2010.

More than 48% of Americans took at least 1 prescription drug each month in 2008—a 10% increase over the past 10 years, according to a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Investigating the use of multiple prescription drugs, the report revealed key findings for pharmacists. The use of more than 1 prescription drug rose by 20%, and the use of more than 5 prescription drugs rose by a staggering 70%, compared with the previous decade. From 2007 to 2008, 50% of all Americans used at least 1 prescription drug, and 1 of every 10 Americans used 5 or more.

These numbers likely reflect the availability of medicines to treat chronic disease among adults aged 60 years and older. However, with availability comes added risk, the authors noted. “Polypharmacy is also an acknowledged safety risk for older Americans,” and could lead to “adverse drug events, medication compliance issues, and growing health care costs,” they wrote.

The findings reveal a greater need for pharmacists’ services, such as medication therapy management, to help patients keep track of a growing roster of medicines. According to the report, prescription drug use will only increase as more Americans are granted health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

NACDS Chain Pharmacy Industry Profile Unveiled

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has issued its annual resource to the industry in Industry Profile 2010-2011, which covers data that quantify many important aspects of the pharmacy industry’s value. Available from NACDS, this comprehensive report includes information on the role of the pharmacist, the activities of NACDS, and the economic impact of pharmacies.

Retail stores with pharmacies have a total annual economic impact of $1.57 trillion, based on 2009 data, which is the equivalent of approximately 11% of the gross domestic product. According to the NACDS report, for every dollar spent in these stores a ripple effect of $1.96 is created throughout other segments of the economy. The report also includes employment figures, average prescription prices, profiles of the pharmacy consumer, demographics, and more data to define the current state of the industry.

Community pharmacy in the United States accounts for increased activity in the health care of the public. Outpatient prescription drug use is at an all-time high with 3.6 billion prescriptions filled in retail pharmacies—a 32% increase since 1999. Chain pharmacies represent the largest component of the pharmacy practice and they fill more than 72% of prescriptions dispensed annually in the United States. The Industry Profile 2010- 2011 is available from NACDS by calling 703-837-4129 or ordering online at www. PT

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