More Than $60 Billion Spent On Proton Pump Drugs In Just Four Years

Michael Johansen, MD MS Assistant Professor Dept of Family Medicine Ohio State Interview with:
Michael Johansen, MD MS
Assistant Professor
Dept of Family Medicine
Ohio State University

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Johansen: Between 2007-2011, the United States spent $63.4 billion on high-cost proton pump inhibitors of which $47.1 billion was in excess of using generic omeprazole.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Johansen: Yes and no. While the finding of excess expenditure was expected to be high, I was shocked by the level of the excess.

Medical Research: What should clinicians take away from your report?

Dr. Johansen: As a clinician, it became clear that we need to be good steward of societal resources. Prescribing one person an unnecessary high cost drug doesn’t seem like a big deal until you think about it on a societal level. We end up spending more than $47.1 billion more over 5 years than needed within a single class of drugs. These billions are taken away from other aspects of society such as for roads, schools, or high value medical interventions.

Medical Research: What should patients take away from your report?

Dr. Johansen: Patients were responsible for paying almost $7 billion more than if they had used omeprazole. It is a good idea to ask your physician if there are cheaper options to branded medications (there normally are).

What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Johansen: We are at a point that we need to try different ways of decreasing unnecessary use of high cost drugs. It is critical that policy makers intervene. Expecting different outcomes without changing the incentives and structures for pharmaceutical companies, physicians, and patients is highly unlikely. The goals of change should focus on incentivizing innovative new products, while decreasing the profitability of drugs that provide minimal value over cheaper alternative drugs.