Don’t Fall for This Pain Reliever Insurance Scam

Brief Analyses | Health

No. 820
Thursday, November 12, 2015
by Devon Herrick

Many Americans begin to experience normal aches and pains as they age. They also become increasingly at-risk for a form of heartburn called acid reflux. Drugs to treat acid reflux, including prescription Prevacid and Nexium, were expensive a decade ago — costing nearly $5 per day. At the time, pain medications that did not irritate the stomach, and costly heartburn medications, were among the fastest rising drug costs health plans faced.

Common pain relievers, including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, are from a drug class known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They are prone to irritate the stomach if taken frequently in high doses throughout the day. A newer class of pain medications that doesn’t irritate the stomach, called Cox-2 inhibitors, includes the drug Celebrex. Cox-2 inhibitors are the preferred pain reliever for those who cannot take NSAIDs on a long-term basis. Cox-2 inhibitors are expensive; a decade ago, Celebrex cost from $945 to $1,201 per year, far more than common NSAIDs. At the time, researchers found that taking prescription heartburn medication with common pain relievers could mimic the benefits of the costly pain drugs, but did not deliver any cost savings due to the high price of prescription heartburn treatments.

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