Drug supplies and costs for older adults

M. Murray, K. Stroupe, T. Stump, C. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insufficient drug supplies for older adults can lead to inadequate treatment, but excessive supplies increase the potential for misuse and wasted resources. We determined the volume and direct costs of drugs dispensed to older adult patients (>60 years of age) over three years focusing on 19 major drug categories. We estimated the amounts of drugs needed by patients to treat their chronic diseases using data from primary care prescription records for comparison to the drug amounts actually received from any and all providers (primary, emergency, and inpatient). Ordered probit analysis was used to ascertain factors associated with an inadequate (<80% of the amount actually needed) or excess drug supplies (>120% of the amount needed). The cohort comprised 4,747 patients who were 71±7 (SD) years of age. There were 1,015 patients (21%) who received <80% of the amount needed, 2,492 patients (53%) who received between 80 and 120% and 1,240 patients (26%) who received > 120%. The cost of targeted drugs was $2.9 million. Insufficient drug supplies reduced drug costs by $692,000 and excess supplies added $239,000. Factors associated with inadequate or excess supplies included patient age, and the numbers of primary care visits and hospital admissions. These results reveal dangerous and costly under- and over-supplies of drugs for the treatment of chronic disease in one-half of older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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