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Seventy Percent Surge In Diabetes Spending

Spending on endocrine and diabetes therapies could surge nearly 70 percent in the next two years, according to Medco Health Solutions. Diabetes treatments were the second leading contributor in total dollars to prescription drug spending growth in

2006, trailing only cholesterol drugs. Spending on diabetes treatments increased 14.5 percent from 2005 to 2006, and the use of diabetes drugs increased 5.1 percent, according to the Medco report.

A number of factors are fueling this rise: The aging U.S. population, greater incidence of obesity, and newer, costlier medications.

The report says these factors as well as more frequent use of new drug combinations will push spending growth rates on diabetes medications upward 16 percent to 20 percent annually.

"Diabetes, and in particular, type 2 diabetes, is becoming much more prevalent among people of all ages, imposing a growing burden on health plans who pay for their care. It is creating a significant health care concern in America," says Medco's Chief Medical Officer Robert S. Epstein, MD. "While prevention of type 2 diabetes needs to be a national priority, drug treatments can help prevent the onset of complications from diabetes that lead to hospitalizations, more complex treatment, and dramatically higher costs."

The report says that new treatments for diabetes will drive unit costs higher as newer drugs are increasingly prescribed as first-line therapy. New injectable treatments and oral diabetes medications that act on new clinical targets have become available recently. Novel diabetes treatments in the development pipeline will also help push costs upward.

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