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Professional News
Economic Impact Unclear
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 22 page 14-14

With antidepressant, antianxiety, and sedative medications having been dispensed in significantly increased quantities following September 11, the steadily growing portion of the health care dollar devoted to medications grew even more.

While NDCHealth provided Psychiatric News with data on the costs of the increased dispensing of these medications, no data are yet available on who is paying for the added medications—patients, third-party insurance, or state programs such as Medicaid.

Regardless of who is paying, the bill for these drugs is indeed a significant one, according to projections of the cost to the entire population based on NDCHealth’s sampling of two-thirds of the registered pharmacies nationwide. The projected cost of the additional antidepressant medications prescribed between September 11 and the week ending October 12 noted in the story above amounted to an additional $51 million compared with sales prior to the week ending September 7.

That increase pushed the total projected expenditures for all SSRIs/SNRIs nationally to $1.3 billion for that five-week period. The increase in antianxiety medications dispensed resulted in a projection of an extra $12.8 million being spent in those five weeks, increasing the total national bill for anxiety medications to nearly $300 million during that time. During the same period, projected sales of sedative/hypnotic medications increased $6.5 million relative to sales prior to September 11. That brought the projected total sales figures for sleeping pills to some $167 million.

Together the projected increase in selected psychotropic medications looked at in the NDCHealth data came to $70.3 million. During the five-week period reflected in the data, a projected total of $1.68 billion was spent on antidepressant, antianxiety, and sedative medications.

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