NU Online News Service, June 11, 12:15 p.m. – Prescription drug spending will double in the next five years, led mainly by medications in two therapeutic categories, according to a recent report by Merck-Medco, a drug care provider based in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

According to the report, about 51% of the increase in spending is attributed to drugs in two therapeutic categories. The cardiovascular category, which include hypertension and cholesterol-lowering medications, will account for 28% of the increase, with lipid-lowering medications growing the fastest. The central nervous system, which includes psychiatric and neurological drugs and high-profile new medications for the treatment of pain and arthritis, will make up 23% of the increase.

The greatest increase in drug trend is not among senior citizens, the study says, but in the baby-boomer age group of 40-55, where greater awareness of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of conditions such as allergies, pain, gastrointestinal disorders and heart disease have prompted an early transition to long-term medications. The age group of 65-70 represents the lowest increase in drug trend with about half the rate of increase of the 40-55 age group. The 65-79 age group, however, posts the largest increase in the average cost per member for pharmaceutical care with almost $1,400 per year.