Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Ranks High in Child Prescription Spending

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Ranks High in Child Prescription Spending

Article excerpt

Spending on prescription drugs for infants, children, adolescents and young adults in Oklahoma ranks 13th in the country, with 57 percent of children under the age of 19 taking at least one prescription medication, according to research released in conjunction with Medco Health Solutions 2002 Drug Trend Report.

On average, the equivalent of $115, vs. the national average of $98, was spent on prescription medications for a single child in the past year, the data revealed.

According to the research, which reviewed the prescription drug use of 500,000 people under age 19, more pediatric patients are taking more -- and more costly -- medications for longer periods of time. For the under-19 age group, drug trend -- the one-year rise in prescription spending per patient -- was 28 percent in 2001, compared with 23 percent in the 35-49 age group, and less than 10 percent in the 65 and older age group.

The three primary drivers of drug spend in the under-19 age group were anti-infectives, allergy and asthma, followed by dermatologics and neurological/psychological treatments.

Oklahoma's children take more allergy medication than any other medication, and ranks ninth among all states in pediatric allergy medication use. In addition, it ranks 10th among all states in pediatric use of antibiotics and fifth in use of asthma medications.

NIH grants

Thanks to a five-year, $11.4 million federal grant to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma researchers may soon be one step closer to finding cures for blindness and the many diseases associated with it.

The grant, "Mentoring Vision Research in Oklahoma," will be provided by the National Institutes of Health through their Institutional Development Award program. It will primarily support the research of young investigators from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, OU-Norman, University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State University and Langston University.

Most of the research supported by the grant is housed at the OU College of Medicine and the Dean McGee Eye Institute; however, research facilities will also be located at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, as well as at OU-Norman, The University of Tulsa, and Oklahoma State University.

"This grant is huge because it provides us with more than $2 million in direct costs the first year, and it suddenly launches the careers of these young investigators who typically would be struggling to get their research programs off the ground with small grants of $20,000 to $35,000," said Robert E. Anderson, professor of ophthalmology and cell biology at OUHSC and director of research at the Dean McGee Eye Institute.

Anderson said a one-time amount of $500,000 would go toward renovating space at the Dean McGee Eye Institute to handle the individual research projects.

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