Conventional Diabetes Treament Costs in US Increased Almost 100% from 2001 to 2007

Mar 4, 2009 by

Conventional Diabetes Treament Costs in US Increased Almost 100% from 2001 to 2007

Diabetes is a serious health condition which is beginning to affect an increasing number of people. In natural health circles, there is very little doubt that diabetes is a lifestyle and dietary disease.

And its escalating rates are heavily taxing the already burdened US medical care system, as revealed in the following article.

Diabetes Treatment Cost in US Nearly Doubled from 2001 to 2007

by Reuben Chow

The economy is stuttering and healthcare costs are on the rise. Now, according to a study which was recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, we discover that the annual costs of diabetes treatment in the United States has nearly doubled in a mere 6-year period, from 2001 to 2007.

Findings of Study

In 2001, the cost of diabetes treatment was $6.7 billion for the year. This figure ballooned to $12.5 billion in 2007.

So, what are the main causes of this huge jump? According to the study, which was led by Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, the main reasons were the higher number of diabetes patients, the prescription of more drugs, as well as the shift toward medications which are more expensive.

Two national databases were used to analyze trends of diabetes and its treatment in the country. The study team found that the number of incidences of Americans with diabetes has been on the steady increase – in 1994 there were 10 million, then 14 million in 2000, and 19 million in 2007. That is a lot of people!

During the same period, the average number of medications for each patient has also been rising. This figure was only 1.06 in 1994, but by 2007, it had reached 1.45. In 1994, the vast majority of patients (82%) were only given one drug. In 2007, however, less than half (47%) were prescribed one drug.

Despite the above increases, it seems that the third reason is the one which has played the largest part in the escalating costs of diabetes treatment.

“Although more patients and more medications per patient played a role, the single greatest contributor to increasing costs is the use of newer, more expensive medications,” said Dr Alexander.

In 2001, the average price of a prescription of diabetes drugs was $56. This increased to $76 in 2007, and a major reason for this was the use of new oral medications in place of injected insulin.

New drugs such as sitagliptin (brand name of Januvia) and exenatide (brand name of Byetta), which were available in 2007, formed about 8% and 4% respectively of all doctor visits whereby diabetes drugs were prescribed. Now, compared with older, generic drugs such as metformin or glypizide, these new drugs, at averages per prescription of $160 and $202 respectively, cost a massive 8 to 11 times more!

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