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Cholesterol, Diabetes Drugs at Top of Medicare List

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In 2007, elderly Medicare beneficiaries spent nearly $19 billion on cholesterol and diabetes prescription drugs. That's about one-quarter of the approximately $82 billion spent on all medications for the elderly, says a U.S. government analysis released Wednesday.

Cholesterol and diabetes medications are metabolic drugs. The other four drug classes most often purchased by elderly Americans in 2007 were:

Cardiovascular drugs, including blood pressure medicines, diruetics and drugs to control abnormal heart rhythms ($15 billion).

Central nervous system drugs, such as arthritis and other pain medications ($8 billion).
Gastrointestinal drugs, including anti-acid medications ($7 billion).
Hormones to treat cancer, osteoporosis and other conditions ($5 billion).
The analysis appears in the latest issue of News and Numbers, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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