DTC pharma ads could raise Medicaid costs

In recent times, a vocal bloc of critics have been working to reduce the volume of direct-to-consumer advertisements placed by pharmaceutical companies or even eliminate such ads altogether. The following study, if widely read, may do something to advance their cause.

The study, which looked at state data from 1999 to 2005 for 27 state programs, found that DTC ads for antiplatelet drug Plavix (clopidogrel) seemed to be associated with higher drug costs and Medicaid pharmacy spending (though oddly, the ads didn't directly increase patients' use of the medication).

Specifically, between 2001 and 2005, pharma spending on DTC ads promoting clopidogrel was more than $350 million, or about $70 million per year. During that time period, cost per unit per quarter increased by 40 cents, or 12 percent. That added $40.58 in pharmacy costs per 1,000 Medicaid enrollees, researchers said.

To find out more about the study:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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