City MDs Prescribe More Brand-Name Meds Than Country Doctors

iStock

How U.S. doctors write prescriptions is influenced by several factors, including their area’s racial composition, level of affluence, and state health care laws, say researchers at the University of Chicago.

For example, doctors in urban areas — particularly in the Northeast Corridor between New York City and Washington, D.C. — are more likely to prescribe expensive brand-name drugs, even when research doesn’t show them to be more effective, while doctors in northern New England and some Midwestern and Western states tend to prescribe cheaper medications. Also, drugs used to treat dermatological conditions and infertility are prescribed more often in urban, rather than rural, areas of the country, and antipsychotic drug prescription rates are higher in the north and western states.

The Chicago researchers came to these conclusions after analyzing data on 2002 to 2013 medical claims for more than 150 million patients in 2,334 U.S. counties. They looked at first-time prescription rates for 598 commonly-used drugs, then categorized this information by region (north, south, east, west), population (urban, rural), and socioeconomic factors, including race and income levels. Overall, the best indicators that doctors would prescribe higher-priced prescription medicines were their area’s income level, health care costs, and access to exercise, according to the researchers.

Sourced from: Nature Communications