Free Drugs = Life + Cost Savings
Are some medicines so good they should be free? If we’re talking about
ACE inhibitors and the 8 million Americans over age 65 with diabetes, the answer
appears to be yes.
A new U-M Health System cost-benefit analysis indicates these drugs are so beneficial
to this group of patients that even giving them away would save both lives and
money in the long run by preventing costly heart attacks, strokes and kidney
Currently, more than half of these patients are not taking ACE inhibitors to
lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications,
says Allison Rosen, M.D., Sc.D., assistant professor of internal medicine in
the Medical School and assistant professor in the School of Public Health, who
directed the study.
The new Medicare prescription drug plan covers partial costs of medicines for
people over age 65, and is expected to increase use of ACE inhibitors among
seniors with diabetes. But under this plan, seniors will still pay part of their
drug costs in the form of premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
“Out-of-pocket costs, such as co-pays, are designed to keep patients from
over-using medications, but they also create barriers to the use of essential
medications,” Rosen says. “Our analysis shows that removing all
patient costs for diabetes patients taking ACE inhibitors could save Medicare
both lives and money.”
For an expanded version of the story:
For patient information on type 2 diabetes: