You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Medicare drug tab $2.55B for older and disabled Ohioans

New research shows most Medicare prescriptions were for conditions associated with obesity.


Elderly and disabled Ohioans were charged nearly $2.6 billion in drug costs in 2010, most of it spent on prescriptions for medications to treat hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, according to a report Monday from the independent investigative news organization ProPublica.

Ohio pharmacies filled nearly 3 million prescriptions for just two common treatments for high cholesterol and hypertension — Simvastatin and Lisinopril — alone in 2010 at a cost of more than $41 million, based on ProPublica’s examination of Medicare Part D prescription data. Medicare is the federal program that pays for certain health care expenses for the disabled and people aged 65 or older.

Last year about 2 million Ohioans were covered by Medicare. That number amounts to one in six Ohioans enrolled in the federal program, with about 85 percent of them senior citizens.

It is difficult to say precisely why prescriptions for high cholesterol and hypertension medications were so prevalent in Ohio, but at least one local expert attributes the prescriptions to the growing obesity epidemic in Ohio and across the country.

“Obesity and high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many other conditions are absolutely linked,” said Richard Cohen, a dietitian at Kettering Weight Loss Solutions. “It should be no surprise that states with the highest obesity rates also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and hypertension. Just about everybody we see is on some kind of statin to lower cholesterol.”

Ohio has the eighth-highest obesity rate in the country, according to the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which found about 30 percent of adult Ohioans are obese, compared to about 26 percent of adults nationally.

While you do not have to be overweight or obese to have hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity is an established risk factor for those conditions. The only thing riskier is not seeking treatment, Cohen said.

“If you’re a doctor, you want to help people with a lifestyle change, but it takes a little while to accomplish that,” he said. “In the meantime, you can’t let people walk around with high blood pressure because they could have stroke. So you’ve got to give them medication for that.”

ProPublica, which reviewed 1.1 billion prescriptions written by 1.7 million doctors, nurses and other providers between 2007 and 2010, found widespread use of antipsychotics, narcotics and other drugs dangerous for older adults.

ProPublica went on to report that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has done little to monitor potentially dangerous prescribing patterns or doctors who frequently prescribe dangerous medications through Medicare Part D.

While prescriptions for high blood pressure and hypertension are generally less lethal, all drugs have potentially dangerous side effects, said Ernest Boyd, executive director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association.

“There’s no prescription or over-the-counter drug that doesn’t have some kind of problem with it if you either overuse it or put it in combination with certain other medications,” Boyd said. “Many times people go to two or three doctors, and by they time they combine all these meds they could have a problem.

“That’s why it’s important for people to have a pharmacist that they can ask those kinds of questions of about interactions and whether a drug has a regular side effect that I should be aware of,” he said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Clark Co. health officials report 1 suspected Zika virus
Clark Co. health officials report 1 suspected Zika virus

A traveler returning home in Clark County has contracted what is believed to be the Zika virus, according to the Clark County Combined Health District. The individual traveled from a “Zika hot spot” and upon return exhibited a rash and other symptoms consistent with Zika, according to Clark County Health Commissioner Charlie Patterson. ...
Stafford: Learn about cancer while applauding survivors
Stafford: Learn about cancer while applauding survivors

OK, class, I know it’s late in the school year, but Mr. Stafford needs you to settle down and take your seats. We’re starting today with a little quiz. Save your groans. The torture won’t last long this time. Just three questions, true or false, easy-peasy. But there’s a catch, a reason you might want to put down your cell phones...
Teen charged in Bellfontaine school threat
Teen charged in Bellfontaine school threat

A Bellfontaine High School student was arrested Thursday night and alleged to have made threats against the high school. The Bellfontaine Police Department announced on their Facebook page they arrested a 16-year-old and said that the community is safe. The student is alleged to have uploaded a video onto Facebook Thursday threatening to harm other...
SBDC exec to place more emphasis on existing businesses
SBDC exec to place more emphasis on existing businesses

The new executive director for the Small Business Development Center in Springfield said the agency will likely place more emphasis on growing existing businesses in Clark County. The agency has placed an emphasis in the past in helping small businesses get off the ground, said Rob Alexander, who took over as executive director of the SBDC. That kind...
Finns pay tribute to rock band Kiss
Finns pay tribute to rock band Kiss

Heavy metal fans in Finland decided to rock ’n’ roll all night and honor the band Kiss. >> Read more trending news Fans placed masks on four giant statues in the capital city of Helsinki to honor the hard-rock group, Yahoo reported. State-owned railway operator VR invited four fans of the band to paint black-and-white Kiss masks...
More Stories