Spending on retail prescription drugs in the US increased 84% between 1993 and 1998, according to a report from the National Institute for Health Care Management Research and Education Foundation. Spending on prescription drugs increased twice as fast as spending on all other healthcare during the 5-year study period. Annual drug expenditures increased $42.7 billion during the period, from $50.6 billion to $93.4 billion. Four therapeutic categories accounted for more than 30% of prescription drug spending: oral antihistamines, antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering agents and antiulcerants. Spending on drugs in these categories increased 612%, 240%, 194% and 71%, respectively. The report notes that these categories tend to include heavily advertised drugs. "The 10 drugs most heavily advertised to consumers in 1998 accounted for $9.3 billion or about 22% of the total increase in drug spending between 1993 and 1998." These were Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, Prozac, Zocor, Pravachol, Prilosec, Propecia, Evista and Zyban. Pharmaceuticals are consuming an ever-bigger piece of the health care pie. In 1998, for every dollar spent by the US pharmaceutical industry on R&D, nearly 50 cents was spent on product promotion.
COMMENTARY: Drug spending nearly DOUBLED in five years. That is an incredible testimony to how effective the marketing departments are in convincing doctors and the public to use their paradigm to clear up their ills. Always follow the money. The medical monopoly in America made up of the large pharmaceutical companies, the AMA, large hospital chains, and the FDA, is a trillion dollar plus industry comprising 18% of the US economy. It is highly profitable. There is great money to be made in treating disease, but very little in wellness. Sudden answers for heart disease, cancer and other chronic illness would eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. That is as much a threat to the medical monopoly as a low cost alternative to gasoline in autos would be to the oil industry. It would be met with violent opposition. Traditional medicine is HEAVILY influenced by the large petrochemical based pharmaceuticals and it finances most of the medical schools and medical research in this country. It is quite sad that all of the drugs above have alternatives that are not being used by most people. It is quite clear that the major reason is a decrease in profits for the companies. They will aggressively suppress this information to preserve their profits. Fortunately, readers of this newsletter, and many other good publications out there that help one find simple inexpensive alternatives