Study: $6.7B Spent on Unnecessary Tests, Drugs in 2009

In 2009, $6.7 billion was spent performing unnecessary tests or prescribing unnecessary medications in primary care, according to researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Eighty-six percent of that cost, or approximately $5.8 billion, is attributed to the prescription of brand-name statins rather than generic versions to treat high cholesterol, according to the release. The researchers also said costs were attributable to unnecessary blood work and bone scans and the over-prescription of antibiotics for sore throats in children.

Minal Kale, MD, led the study and said it shows how small, individual costs can contribute substantially to overall healthcare spending.

"Our analysis shows astronomical costs associated with prescribing of brand name statins when effective, generic alternatives were available. Efforts to encourage prescribing of generics clearly have not gone far enough," Dr. Kale said in a release.  

Related Articles on Healthcare Spending:

Study: Physician Fees are Major Driver in Healthcare Costs
RAND Study: Rising Healthcare Costs Negates Americans' Income Gains
Health Affairs: Affordable Care Act to Spur Healthcare Spending

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