Public attention and recent policy activity has intensified focus on escalating medication prices. However, the actual cost of medication use extends beyond the up-front cost of purchasing medicines. It also encompasses the additional medical costs of morbidity and mortality resulting from nonoptimized medication regimens, including medication nonadherence. In this study, researchers Jonathan Watanabe, Pharm.D., M.S., Ph.D. BCGP, Terry McInnis, MD, MPH and Jan Hirsch, BS Pharm, Ph.D. applied the most current nationally representative data sources to estimate the cost of prescription drug–related morbidity and mortality in the United States.
Findings: The estimated annual cost of prescription drug–related morbidity and mortality resulting from nonoptimized medication therapy was $528.4 billion in 2016 US dollars, with a plausible range of $495.3 billion to $672.7 billion. The authors conclude that the estimated annual cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality resulting from nonoptimized medication therapy was $528.4 billion, equivalent to 16% of total US health care expenditures in 2016. Further, the authors propose expansion of comprehensive medication management programs by clinical pharmacists in collaborative practices with physicians and other prescribers as an effective and scalable approach to mitigate these avoidable costs and improve patient outcomes.