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February 11, 2008

Millions of children, adults using discount generic Rx programs, U-M poll finds

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health finds 18% of parents use the programs for their kids; 51% of these kids have private insurance

Ann Arbor, MI – Nearly 70 million Americans have used discount generic prescription drug programs offered at major retail stores across the country, say researchers with the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

But in a report released today, the National Poll on Children’s Health reveals it’s not just the millions of uninsured U.S. adults and children who retail stores claim the programs were intended to aid that are taking advantage of lower-price prescription generic drugs – 47 percent of adults and 51 percent of children using these programs have private insurance.

While uninsured adults and children have used these programs at higher rates than privately insured Americans, the poll shows that they only represent a fraction of program users. In fact, only 17 percent of adults and 9 percent of children who use discount generic prescription drug programs are uninsured.

“The prices of prescription medications have reached a point now that we’re seeing individuals from all insurance and income groups looking for a lower-priced options,” says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children’s Health. “While these programs certainly are reaching the uninsured, privately insured Americans still make up the largest group of adults and children using discount prescription drug programs, simply because there are a larger number of people in the U.S. with insurance coverage.”

The National Poll on Children’s Health also finds discount generic prescription drug programs are more likely to be used by adults with heart disease. However, adults with other chronic illnesses and children with chronic conditions use the discount programs at the same rate as patients without chronic illnesses. Of those polled, 25 percent with chronic illnesses report they did not use a discount generic prescription drug program because their medications are not currently available through these programs.

Matthew Davis, MD“Many people may wonder, if these programs are such a great deal, why people with chronic conditions aren’t using them. And in many cases, many medications for certain chronic conditions are not offered through these programs because they are not available in generic form,” notes Davis. “These programs are a work in progress. So, even if a patient’s medication isn’t available now, I would encourage him to check back often because the list of medications available through these programs continues to grow.”

Not surprisingly, the National Poll on Children’s Health shows households with lower and middle incomes are more likely to have used these programs than households at higher incomes. Among adults with annual household incomes below $60,000, 28 percent have used discount generic prescription drug programs. In comparison, only 17 percent of adults with annual household incomes of greater than $60,000 have used such programs.

Overall, 25 percent of adults have used discount generic drug programs, and 18 percent of parents have used these programs for their children’s medications. Among those who are uninsured, 36 percent have bought prescription medications for adults through these programs, and 24 percent have used them to fill prescriptions for uninsured children.

As a result, Davis says the National Poll on Children’s Health findings indicate that people are aware of and using discount generic prescription drug programs offered at major national retail stores.

“At this point, it’s not about getting the word out about these programs,” he says. “Instead, we need to work to encourage more physicians to prescribe to their patients the generic medications available through these programs. It’s an opportunity to help patients endure less of the economic burden of buying costly prescription medications.”

For its report, the National Poll on Children’s Health used data from a national online survey conducted in December in collaboration with Knowledge Networks Inc. The survey was administered to a random sample of 2,131 adults, ages 18 and older, who are a part of Knowledge Network’s online KnowledgePanelSM. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect U.S. population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. About three-fourths of the sample were households with children.

Report highlights

  • 25 percent of all adults have used discount generic prescription drug programs; more than two-thirds of these adults have private insurance or Medicare.
  • 18 percent of parents have used discount generic prescription drug programs for their children; over one-half of these children have private insurance.
  • Uninsured adults and children have used discount generic prescription drug programs at higher rates than the privately insured.
  • Most adults and children with chronic illnesses are no more likely to have used discount generic prescription drug programs than those without chronic conditions

For the complete report and podcast about poll results, visit the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health online. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health – funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and part of the CHEAR Unit at the U-M Health System – is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

To learn more about Knowledge Networks, visit their Web site.

Written by Krista Hopson      

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