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

Local musician “honored” to perform at inauguration
Local musician “honored” to perform at inauguration

Donnie Reis, a national recording artist and producer from Tipp City and an Iraq War veteran, respects Civil Rights, women’s rights and the right to protest — but above all else, he respects the democratic process, which manifests itself every four years as the inauguration of the President of the United States. Reis said he considered...
Graham students start mentoring program for classmates
Graham students start mentoring program for classmates

Three Graham High School students started a tutoring program last October for their fellow students, but now the program has expanded to the middle and elementary schools, encompassing more than 100 students. Senior Kaitlyn Spriggs, sophomore Lacie Smith and junior Thomas Frost began their Tutoring Corner program when they noticed their peers flagging...
'SNL' writer under fire for Barron Trump tweet
'SNL' writer under fire for Barron Trump tweet

“Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich has come under intense criticism after she made a joke about 10-year-old Barron Trump that many felt was in poor taste. Barron, the son of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, has been the subject of internet attention as he often appears nervous or bored during his father’s...
West Liberty-Salem school shooting suspect identified
West Liberty-Salem school shooting suspect identified

The teenager shot and lying on the ground bleeding inside West Liberty-Salem High School on Friday continued to talk his assailant into surrendering, family members and several other students said a day after the tragedy. Prosecutors said Saturday the teenager accused of shooting 16-year-old junior Logan Cole at the small, rural high school may be...
Troopers seize 22 pounds of pot, 12 pounds of THC edibles worth more than $150K
Troopers seize 22 pounds of pot, 12 pounds of THC edibles worth more than $150K

A traffic stop this week led troopers to seize more than $150,000 in marijuana and edibles containing THC, the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of pot. Adam R. Bye, 25, of Taylor, Michigan, was stopped at 1:25 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 75 in Shelby County for a turn signal violation, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Troopers...
More Stories