Every Tenth American Was Prescribed a GI Medication in 2007, Says Federal Agency

February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010 — One of every 10 Americans was prescribed at least 1 gastrointestinal (GI) medication on an outpatient basis in 2007 compared with 1 of every 15 Americans in 1997, according to a recent report from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A 60% rise in the number of Americans who were prescribed GI agents accompanied a 170% increase in total expenditures on these medications, which was $18.9 billion in 2007 compared with $7 billion in 1997 (adjusted to 2007 dollars).

The average price per GI drug purchase increased during this period from $90 to $120 for a 33% increase. The overall inflation rate for this 10-year stretch was 29%.

These findings emerged from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Center for Health Statistics. Expenditure and purchase estimates for prescription medications include refills as well as the original script. The survey excluded medications administered in a hospital, clinic, or physician office.

GI Prescription Volume Was Highest Among Seniors

The percentage of Americans who were prescribed at least 1 GI medication rose across all income and age categories, as well among white non-Hispanics, black non-Hispanics, and Hispanics, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

Americans aged 65 years and older were the heaviest users of GI medications. In 2007, 26.6% of this age group were prescribed a GI medication. In contrast, just 8.9% of Americans aged 18 to 64 years had at least 1 such prescription. That rate among Americans aged 17 years and younger was 2.5%.

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