PHARMACY

Diabetes costs above $217 billion, national economic study asserts

BY Jim Frederick

NEW YORK The total costs of undiagnosed, pre-diabetes and diabetes last year cost the United States an estimated $217.5 billion in higher medical expenditures and lost productivity, researchers reported today.

The research, from a National Diabetes Economic Barometer study sponsored by Novo Nordisk, found big increases in clinical-care costs for the fast-growing disease, which now affects some 20 million Americans. Beyond the estimated $174 billion that is widely accepted as the cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2007, an additional $18 billion was spent on 6.3 million people with undiagnosed diabetes, according to the study. Another $25 billion went for 57 million American adults with pre-diabetes, and $623 million was spent for the 180,000 pregnancies where gestational diabetes was diagnosed.

The National Diabetes Economic Barometer research was conducted by The Lewin Group and commissioned by the National Changing Diabetes Program, an initiative created by Novo Nordisk. Lewin Group vice president Tim Dall said diabetes can trigger rising health costs even before patients are diagnosed with the disease.

“In individuals with pre-diabetes, we observed a significant increase in ambulatory visits for a wide variety of medical conditions, including hypertension, endocrine, metabolic and kidney complications,” Dall said. “Additionally, the data show that during the two years before diagnosis people exhibit an increase in ambulatory and hospital-based care for diabetes-related complications.”

As the leading source of health insurance, covering about 158 million non-elderly people in America, employers are beginning to feel the financial sting. To that end, “We encourage businesses to take action to reduce the devastating economic consequences of this disease by learning about their workforce, engaging their employees, and making purchasing decisions that will encourage better health choices,” said Dana Haza, senior director of the Changing Diabetes program.

“If companies can help their employees learn how to better manage their health, businesses can potentially cut down on their own healthcare spending while improving the quality of life of those who work for them.”

Diabetes is an escalating health crisis in the United States, and the number of Americans with the disease is projected to double by 2025. In 2007, the Changing Diabetes program undertook a multi-phase initiative—the National Diabetes Triple Barometer—designed to evaluate the current state of diabetes in America in three critical indicators: societal, economic and clinical, according to Novo Nordisk. After all three barometers are complete, they will be packaged and serve as a national benchmark and measurement system to create behavior change, drive policy change and catalyze momentum for further strategic system improvements, the company announced.

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FDA grants conditional approval to generic version of Wyeth’s Effexor

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Food and Drug Administration has given tentative approval to a generic version of Wyeth Pharmaceutical’s Effexor XR, an antidepressant.

Mylan announced the FDA decision Monday for its version of the drug, known generically as venlafaxine hydrochloride. Mylan plans to sell the extended-release capsules in 37.5 mg, 75 mg and 150 mg formulations.

The branded version of the drug had sales of $3 billion during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, according to IMS Health.

 

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Interpol seizes more than $6 million in counterfeit prescription drugs in Asia

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK More than $6 million in counterfeit drugs were seized in an international Interpol sting as part of an investigation lasting five months.

The bust, called Operation Storm, netted $6.65 million in counterfeits of drugs for malaria, HIV and tuberculosis in Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and China.

The international law-enforcement agency arrested 27 people in the sting.

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