Latest Recession Cutback: Prescription Drugs

With the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs, it’s sort of not surprising that consumers are rationing their doctors’ orders. But it is still disconcerting that people are cutting back on prescription medicine. Perhaps the recession will finally lead to a drop in prescription drug prices. Here’s hoping.

NY Times: “People are having to choose between gas, meals and medication,” said Dr. James King, the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, a national professional group. He also runs his own family practice in rural Selmer, Tenn.

“I’ve seen patients today who said they stopped taking their Lipitor, their cholesterol-lowering medicine, because they can’t afford it,” Dr. King said one recent morning.

“I have patients who have stopped taking their osteoporosis medication.”

On Tuesday, the drug giant Pfizer, which makes Lipitor, the world’s top-selling prescription medicine, said United States sales of that drug were down 13 per cent in the third quarter of this year.

Through August of this year, the number of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States was lower than in the first eight months of last year, according to a recent analysis of data from IMS Health, a research firm that tracks prescriptions.

As our mum might say, it will probably be less expensive to pay for osteoporosis medicine or Lipitor now than pay for the health consequences of not taking your medicine. Well she probably wouldn’t say it like that, but you get the gist: “Better to be safe than sorry.” Yes, we can hear her saying that. (OK, mum!)

And the grey Lady agrees.

If enough people try to save money by forgoing drugs, controllable conditions could escalate into major medical problems. That could eventually raise the nation’s total health care bill and lower the nation’s standard of living.

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