Prescription Drug Use by Zip Code

Income doesn’t affect overall prescription use, but according to a recent analysis, income did affect which types of prescriptions patients filled. The report from GoodRx, a company that tracks prescription drug prices, indicated that prescriptions for certain medications – including EpiPen auto-injectors for serious allergic reactions and drugs for mental health disorders – were filled more often by residents of higher-income neighborhoods.

“There are definitely a bunch of financial barriers before you even get to the point of getting to fill a [prescription],” Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University, told The New York Times. For example, wealthier patients are more likely to have extra money to pay for regular visits to a psychiatrist, which are not always covered by insurance.

The high cost of EpiPens alone may explain some of the differences in usage. Current guidance is for patients to stock several and replace them often; however, their cost may lead some poorer patients to make do with fewer or older ones.

The use of antibiotics appears to be roughly the same across income levels as they treat serious diseases and tend to be inexpensive.

The authors of the report suggested several factors that influence the relationship between income and prescription fulfillment, such as life circumstances that affect the likelihood of developing and seeking treatment for certain illnesses.

Source: The New York Times, February 7, 2019.