People with Medicaid coverage who live in states with medical marijuana laws are less likely to take medications commonly prescribed to treat conditions like nausea, pain, and depression, according to a new study.
The research, published last week in Health Affairs, looked at nine conditions and found reductions in prescriptions of medications used to treat depression (13%), nausea (17%), psychosis (12%), seizure disorders (12%), and pain (11%). There was no statistically significant difference for drugs used to treat anxiety, glaucoma, sleep disorders, and spasticity.
The study examined all fee-for-service Medicaid prescriptions between 2007 and 2014 in the 28 states and the District of Columbia that now have medical marijuana laws, comparing usage rates with states where medical marijuana is illegal.
Last year, they studied prescription-drug usage for the same conditions among Medicare beneficiaries in states where medical marijuana is legal. The findings were similar, with some small differences, Bradford said.
Medicaid beneficiaries tend to be younger and poorer than Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, younger people are more likely to use medical marijuana than individuals in their 60s or older although research from dispensaries has found that one-quarter of customers are older than 51, Bradford noted. Another difference is that people covered by Medicare are more likely to use medical marijuana to address anxiety and sleep disorders than the Medicaid population.
According to Express Scripts' most recent Drug Trend Report, spending among Medicaid beneficiaries on treatments for mental and neurological disorders fell 21.6% in 2016, while spending on drugs that treat pain and inflammation rose 3.9%. Spending on mental and neurological disorders among Medicare beneficiaries also fell in 2016, by 12.9%. The PBM attributed the decline in spending on drugs that treat mental and neurological disorders to new generic drugs. (Más)