Health

Big Pharma's Concerned About These Marijuana Stats

July 16th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Recently, two researchers took a look at states with legal medical marijuana and found something that could really mess with Big Pharma.

A new study published in the journal Health Affairs found that people who live in states that allow medical marijuana use prescription pain killers at a "significantly" lower rate than other states.

David and Ashley Bradford, a father and daughter research team from the University of Georgia analyzed national Medicare records from 2010 to 2013, according to The Washington Post. They found that the 17 states that allowed medical marijuana at that time, saw a big drop in painkiller prescriptions through Medicare. Medicare is a federal heath care program for people 65 and older or younger people with certain conditions or disabilities.

Smoking.

"Using data on all prescriptions filled by Medicare Part D enrollees from 2010 to 2013, we found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented," the Bradfords wrote.

This chart below from The Washington Post shows just how great the difference in prescriptions was in states with medical marijuana. An average of 1,826 fewer prescriptions for pain were filled per doctor in states that allow medical marijuana.

"Fewer pills prescribed in medical pot states."

Reducing pain killer prescriptions seems especially important in midst of the country's opiod epidemic.

People who use prescription opioid pain killers for too long can develop a physical dependency and then an addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Also, people who have a pain killer addiction are much more likely to develop a heroin addiction, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

marijuana

Another number that could further scare the pharmaceutical companies and bolster support for national medical marijuana laws relates to money.

The Medicare program could save millions of dollars per year if medical marijuana were legal across the country, according to the study's findings.

"National overall reductions in Medicare program and enrollee spending when states implemented medical marijuana laws were estimated to be $165.2 million per year in 2013," wrote the researchers. "The availability of medical marijuana has a significant effect on prescribing patterns and spending in Medicare Part D."

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