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NM residents spend less than national average on prescription drugs

IMAGE COURTESY UNM
Dr. Melissa Roberts, assistant professor at the University of New Mexico’s College of Pharmacy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico fares better than most states when it comes to per capita spending on prescription medication, according to a recent study. However, experts say there’s still more that the state can do to lower costs for patients.

The Senior List, an informational website for older adults, released a study tracking prescription spending across the United States. The study, which factored in data from the Kaiser Family Foundation and other sources, noted that New Mexico residents spent an average of $1,383 on prescription drugs in 2017, placing it 38th-highest out of 50 states. Residents of Delaware, the state where per capita prescription spending is the highest, spend 68 percent more on prescription medication than New Mexico residents.

The study notes that per-capita spending on prescription drugs has surged by more than 1,000 percent nationally since 1960.

Dr. Melissa Roberts, assistant professor at the University of New Mexico’s College of Pharmacy, said she wasn’t surprised by the rankings, as Western states tend to have lower costs than states on the East Coast, due to a cost of living that tends to be lower in general.

IMAGE COURTESY UNM
Dr. Melanie Dodd, associate dean for clinical affairs at UNM’s College of Pharmacy

Still, she said the study, which doesn’t factor in pharmaceutical costs associated with hospitals, nursing homes, or long-term care, may be underrating prescription drug costs in the Land of Enchantment.

“We just tend to have a higher percentage of retired adults,” Roberts said.

Even if the study accurately represents costs in New Mexico, the relatively low costs in the state may not be entirely a good thing for residents. Dr. Melanie Dodd, associate dean for clinical affairs at UNM’s College of Pharmacy, added that lack of access may be a factor.

Because New Mexico is a largely rural state, even relative to many other Western states, Dodd said many residents may not have easy access to a primary care physician or a pharmacy where they could get a prescription filled.

“For some people, it might be months,” Dodd said.

The study concluded that there is more that states like New Mexico can do to lower costs for patients. New Mexico is one of 22 states that doesn’t have laws prohibiting gag clauses that allow physicians to discuss prescription options based on pricing, preventing price gauging or allowing drug makers to promote and market some drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Dodd and Roberts added that improving one-on-one access for patients could go a long way toward lower costs.

Follow this link to the study: https://www.theseniorlist.com/data/prescription-spending/

 

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