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Money & Medicine: How Much Should We Dish Out?

Written by Michael Richardson, CitiHealth

Few things are valued higher than health, which may be why Americans are willing to spend trillions on it every year. The New York Times reported that in 2010, Americans spend $2.6 trillion on health care, which is more money than most other country’s entire GDP.

Pharmaceuticals are a huge part of that industry, as Americans are willing to fork out big money for prescriptions, even with drug prices higher than most other countries.

Antidepressants, the second most commonly prescribed prescription drug, second to lipid regulators, have been the subject of much debate in recent years. Some question whether or not antidepressants actually do anything, others worry about the side effects, and others use them for things other than depression.

Regardless of the debate, vast numbers of people are taking antidepressants. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys found that antidepressant drug use has risen nearly 400 percent since 1988, according to a recent news article in USA Today. It is estimated that about one out of every ten Americans has taken antidepressants.

There is quite the variety of antidepressant drugs available, which is remarkable considering that according to a recent study funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, antidepressant drugs all work about the same (article published in Yahoo! Health).

The study reviewed data from 234 previously published studies, all of which had at least 1,000 participants. They looked at 13 different antidepressants, including Cymbalta, Prozac, Effexor and Zoloft.

This is game-changing finding, considering polls like the one on an online depression forum, which found that over 80 percent of respondents had tried three or more antidepressant medications, and that over 25 percent had tried nine or more. The gaping price differences between the many antidepressants should cause further concern. How much are you paying for your medication, compared to your neighbor who may be getting the same benefit?

Article Reviewed: June 8, 2012
Copyright © 2015 Healthy Magazine

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