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Nearly $1 Billion a Year Spent on Blood Thinners in U.S.: Report

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In 2007, nearly $900 million was spent in the United States on outpatient prescriptions for blood thinning (anticoagulant) drugs, according to a federal government report released Thursday.

Anticoagulants are used to help prevent blood clots, which can cause heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary embolisms.

About 4.2 million Americans age 18 and older used an anticoagulant in 2007, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The average cost and out-of-pocket payment for a brand name anticoagulant was $65 and $29, respectively, compared with $18 and $7, respectively, for generic anticoagulants.

Among the other findings:

Less than 1 percent of Americans younger than 65 used an anticoagulant in 2007, compared with 6 percent of those ages 65 to 74 and about 10 percent of those 75 and older.
Among patients who used blood thinners, 74 percent had a heart-related condition, 40 percent had undergone surgery that year, and 30 percent had cancer or diabetes.
Of the nearly 28 million anticoagulant prescriptions filled by pharmacists in 2007, 19.3 million were for generics and 8.5 million were for brand-name drugs.

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