Report of Psychotropic Prescription Patterns: Gender Gap Widens, Use of Drugs on the Increase Across the Board

Medco Report: More than One-in-Four Women take Medication to Treat a Mental Health Condition

Mar 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Women far outpace their male counterparts when it comes to the consumption of mental health medications, with 25 percent using at least one psychotropic drug as compared to 15 percent of men.  These are findings from research by Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) that were presented Saturday at the 2012 Women’s Health Congress.

The study reviewed the pharmacy claims of more than two million insured Americans and assessed the use of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications and drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) between 2001 and 2010. 

“Some mental health medications such as antidepressants have historically been more widely used by women than men,” said lead researcher, Dr. David Muzina, a psychiatrist and national practice leader of the Medco Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center®.   “However, what is surprising is how many women are taking these medications and the substantial increase in the number of women on treatments that have traditionally not been heavily used by females, like ADHD drugs.” 

The research shows that antidepressants are by far the most commonly utilized psychotropic medication, with 21 percent of women on one of these drugs in 2010.  Both men and women’s use increased about 29 percent from the start of the decade, but the number of men taking antidepressants remained about half that of women at 11 percent.

Women also trump men in utilization of anti-anxiety medications. Eleven percent of women ages 45-64 were on an anti-anxiety medication – nearly twice the rate (5.7 percent) of their male counterparts.

While far more boys than girls take ADHD medications, a higher number of women than men are utilizing them as adults.  Females aged 20-44 had the highest use among adults as their utilization rose a staggering 264 percent over the decade, as compared to a 188 percent increase for males the same age.   

A similar pattern was seen for those using atypical antipsychotics; while males had the highest use in childhood, females were more likely to be prescribed these drugs in adulthood.  However, the rate of growth increased more rapidly for men than women over the decade.

“These findings confirm that mental illness is a growing problem in the United States and that more patients are seeking needed therapy,” said Muzina. “However, adequate monitoring by pharmacists and physicians and an open patient dialogue is imperative due to the complexities of mental illness and the risk of taking these medications inappropriately.”

Patients suffering from behavioral health disorders along with other related conditions benefit from the expertise of Medco’s specialist pharmacists who have advanced training and expertise in these and other health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary conditions and cancer.  Specialist pharmacist are also better equipped to identify and address medication adherence problems which is especially important for those with mental health conditions since research shows these patients are more prone to poor adherence with medications used to treat comorbidities such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease and, in general, have poorer health outcomes.          

For more information on mental health medication use, visit America’s State of Mind Report at www.medco.com/media

About Medco
Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) is pioneering The world’s most advanced pharmacy® and its clinical research and innovations are part of Medco making medicine smarter™ for millions of Americans.

With more than 20,000 employees worldwide dedicated to improving patient health and reducing costs for a wide range of public and private sector clients, and 2011 revenues of $70 billion, Medco ranks 34th on the 2011 Fortune 500 list and is named among the world’s most innovative, most admired and most trustworthy companies. 

For more information, go to http://www.medcohealth.com.

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the risks and uncertainties that affect our business, particularly those mentioned in the Risk Factors section of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.

For further information: Ann Smith, Medco Health Solutions, Inc., +1-201-269-5984, Ann_Smith@medco.com; or Janet Schiller or Erin Drelick, both of Coyne Public Relations, +1-973-588-2000

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