Alzheimer’s drug costs likely to rise as boomers age

Overall drug costs are likely to increase over the next couple of decades because of the size of the aging baby boom generation in relation to the total population.

That statistic is even more sobering when you realize that the proportion of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to nearly triple.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that by 2030, the proportion of the population age 65 and older will double to approximately 71 million — 1 in 5 Americans.

The increasing number of older Americans and their growing diversity will make unprecedented demands on public health, services for the aged, and the nation’s health care system. CVS Caremark recently conducted a retrospective study of Alzheimer’s disease drug utilization to identify prevalence, concomitant therapy, drug expenditures, and utilization patterns by demographic groups. The company analyzed 571.3 million prescription claims.

The plan sponsors included Medicaid, national and local employers, health plans, managed care organizations, insurance companies, unions, and government agencies located throughout the United States.

Anna Theodorou, RPh, MBA, director of industry analytics at CVS Caremark and the lead author, says that members were categorized by generation with these age bands: 83 years and older (GI generation), 63 to 82 years (silent generation), 44 to 62 years (baby boom), and 30 to 43 years (generation X).

The overall annualized total drug cost for patients treated with Alzheimer’s drugs was greater than that of patients not receiving Alzheimer therapies.

The average annual total drug cost for a member categorized in the silent generation without Alzheimer’s disease was $2,381, compared with $5,268 for a silent generation member with the disease.

Theodorou says that “a significant portion of the additional cost was attributed to concomitant drug therapy associated with the condition.”

Annualized drug costs by age of Alzheimer’s patients