Prescription drug prices are still increasing, forcing consumers into more of a struggle. Some older Americans seem to be looking for a different medicine that has been more easily obtainable and legal throughout the country. Research put out on Wednesday showed that some states that legalized medical cannabis, which is common for symptoms such as anxiety or depression, saw a drop in the amount of Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat similar conditions as well as a decrease int he amount of spending by Medicare Part D, which covers costs for prescription drugs.
Since the prescriptions for drugs such as opioid painkillers as well as antidepressants dropped in states where cannabis can be legally obtained and used as a replacement, the researchers stated that it seems likely legalization led to a decrease in prescriptions. This is especially noted because prescriptions did not drop for medicines where marijuana can not replace the drug. The study, which was published in Health Affairs, looked at data from Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. This is the first study to look at whether or not legalization can impact a doctor’s clinical practice and how it affects health costs.
The results are interesting in terms of the debate as more officials are showing interest in medical cannabis. This year, Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania, passed laws allowing the drug for therapeutic reasons, making it legal in twenty-five states as well as Washington D.C. Ballots in November could increase this number; Florida and Missouri are of the states voting on the issue this autumn. A federal agency is thinking about reclassifying medical cannabis under national drug policy in order to make it more readily available. Medical marijuana saved Medicare approximately $165 million in 2013, the researchers stated. They projected that, if medical cannabis were available throughout the country, Medicare Part D spending would have dropped in the same year by nearly $470 million. That is almost fifty percent of the program’s total spending.
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