Prescription Smoking-Cessation Medication Fills and Spending, 2009–2019


      Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death. However, effective medicines, including prescription medications often covered by health insurance, are available to aid cessation.


      Trends of 7 U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved prescription medications for smoking cessation during 2009–2019 (before and during Affordable Care Act implementation), including fill counts and spending (total and patient, adjusted to 2019 U.S. dollars), were assessed among U.S. adults aged ≥18 years. Symphony Health's Integrated Dataverse combines data on >90% of outpatient prescription fills with market purchasing data to create national estimates. Analyses were conducted in 2021.


      Annually, total fills (spending) decreased from 3.7 million ($577 million) in 2009 to 2.5 million ($465 million) in 2013 and increased to 4.5 million ($1.279 billion) in 2019; patient spending decreased from $174 million (30% of total annual spending) in 2009 to $54 million (4%) in 2019. Comparing 2009 with 2019, the total spending per fill increased by 80% (from $157 to $282), whereas patient spending per fill decreased by 75% (from $47 to $12). The total spending per fill for branded products increased by 175% (from $166 to $459) and decreased by 41% (from $75 to $44) for generic products. Branded product percentage decreased from 89% to 57%.


      Total fills and spending decreased from 2009 to 2013 and then increased through 2019, whereas patient spending decreased. Earlier studies suggest possible reasons for these trends, such as gradual implementation of federal requirements for insurance coverage of cessation medications and reduced cost sharing and financial barriers.
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