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Physicians have cure for senior's medication bill woes

Mount Sinai study finds physicians key to reducing medication costs for patients and Medicare

A recent study directed by Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) suggests that seniors with low incomes or no prescription coverage were less likely to use generic cardiovascular drugs than more affluent seniors and those with prescription drug coverage. The study, which appears in the October 2006 issue of The American Journal of Managed Care, is the first nationally representative study that examines the association of income and prescription drug coverage with generic medication use by Medicare beneficiaries.

"Since the implementation of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, the burden of navigating benefit waters to realize savings on medications has fallen mainly on seniors" says Alex D. Federman, M.D., M.P.H, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "One obvious cost-saving approach is the use of generic medications."

Dr. Federman and colleagues examined generic cardiovascular drug use in a nationally representative sample of elderly Medicare beneficiaries with hypertension. Hypertension was chosen as a model of chronic disease because of its high prevalence in the United States, the wide availability of generic cardiovascular drugs, and the large prescription drug expenditures associated with this condition. The findings showed that older patients with cardiovascular diseases often used costly brand name drugs when equivalent but lower cost generic versions are available.

"The patients that we were concerned about are low-income and underinsured seniors. Our findings show this group in-particular are missing opportunities to save money on prescription drugs without sacrificing quality of care," noted Dr. Federman. "Physicians must take an active role to address this problem by prescribing equivalent, lower cost generic versions when available."

Mount Sinai Press Office | EurekAlert!
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