WASHINGTON, May 16 (UPI) -- U.S. prescription-drug spending has more than doubled over the last decade, a new report says.
Between 1997 and 2004 the amount spent on drugs prescribed in outpatient settings increased from $72 billion to $191 billion, according to a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Over the same period, total purchases increased from approximately 2 billion to nearly 3 billion prescriptions. That increase was fueled in part by a rise in the average number of prescription-drug purchases per year by those ages 65 and older, which increased from 22 to 31 purchases per year.
Younger consumers also bought more prescription drugs on average. In 1997, people under age 65 who purchased prescription medications bought nine per year on average. In 2004, this number rose to 13 prescriptions per year.