More than 132,000 prescriptions for cough and cold relief were filled by Iowans between the ages of 18 and 64 during 2002 - below the national rate, a new study shows.
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa said its members filled brand name and generic prescriptions at a cost of nearly $1.9 million. The results, released this week, are part of a special Wellmark report.
"What this Wellmark Report revealed is that the Iowa statewide rate for the use of brand name and generic prescription cough and cold drugs is 126 per 1,000 members and is well below the national rate of 181 per 1,000," said Dr. Sheila Riggs, vice president, Wellmark.
Hamburg, Osceola, Council Bluffs, Des Moines and Missouri Valley have the highest rates of use in the state. Decorah, Rock Rapids, Le Mars, Waukon and Cherokee have the lowest rates.
Americans spend an estimated $400 million annually on prescription medicines for cough and cold relief and $2.9 billion on over-the-counter versions of these medicines, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study also found more than 100 million physicians visits in 2001 were a result of the common cold.
"Despite all these physician visits, colds are caused by viruses, and so antibiotics are not an appropriate treatment, unless there is a secondary infection," said Dr. Dale Andringa, Wellmark's chief medical officer. "When you have a cold, you should not expect your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic."