KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medco: Big Jump In Kids’ Prescription Drug Use Last Year

Children's prescription drug use rose "several times faster" than adult use last year, "due in part to swine flu drugs and Type 2 diabetes medications, according to Medco Health Solutions Inc," The Associated Press reports. The "pharmacy benefits manager said a 5 percent increase in prescription drug use for children contributed to a 10.8 percent spending increase last year. In contrast, overall prescription drug use rose 1.3 percent, and drug spending climbed 3.7 percent. Medco released its annual drug trend report Wednesday" (Murphy, 5/19).

Reuters: "More than one in four insured children in the United States and nearly 30 percent of adolescents aged 10 to 19 took at least one prescription medicine to treat a chronic condition in 2009, according to an analysis of pediatric medication use" in the study. "[T]he increases in prescription drug use by children for chronic conditions could fuel significantly higher health care costs as those young patients enter adulthood, Medco said" (Berkot, 5/19).

NPR: "Many children now take medicines more typically prescribed for grown-ups, such as cholesterol-fighters, potent heartburn remedies and diabetes treatments. 'All these adult drugs are popping up in children, which is really disturbing,' Medco's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Epstein said in a media brieing about the report. Childhood obesity is a common thread" (Hensley, 5/19).

The Wall Street Journal: "Medco's report is the latest to point out sharp increases last year in the prices of brand-name drugs. The PBM says those prices rose 9.2%, which company officials said was the most they've seen this decade. That's a lot more than the 3.7% increase in overall drug spending, reflecting the influence of generics, changes in drug utilization and other factors" (Mathews, 5/19).

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