Hitting Them Where It Hurts: Medical Marijuana Takes A Chunk Out Of The Pharmaceutical Business Revenue

[Medical marijuana]

MMJ Taking A Bite Out Of The Pharmaceutical Industry–To The Tune Of $165 Million A Year

The masses have spoken: if you were offered a choice between taking a dangerous chemical that is potentially addictive and which has possible side effects that have been swept under the rug in order to hasten it to market and begin raking in a profit, or taking a plant-based remedy that has little or no side effects other than increased appetite, which would you go with?

Overwhelmingly people are choosing the latter when such a choice is available. That’s what a new study says, which looked at the legalization of medical marijuana and the effects it has had on the medical decisions people make, as well as on the pharmaceutical industry.

What they found was both shocking and not so shocking: it turns out people prefer to use a safe, benign, natural plant to cure what ails them over chemicals.

Who’d a thunk it?

With a total of 25 U.S. states plus Washington D.C. having legalized medical marijuana, it should perhaps come as no surprise that people avail themselves of it as a treatment for all kinds of maladies–so much so that it saves consumers over $165 million a year.

The study, co-authored by W. David Bradford of the University of Georgia, analyzed data pulled from prescriptions filed by Medicare Part D enrollees between 2010 and 2013. They looked at medical conditions for which the prescriptions were filled, and determined which ones could have marijuana be considered as an alternative treatment.

Conditions like depression, anxiety, nausea, pain, and glaucoma fit the bill. But what Bradford and his colleagues found was stunning: over that three-year period, the overall use of prescription medication fell, by 1,826 daily doses for pain and 265 daily doses for depression.

And up until 2013, only 17 states and D.C. had legalized medical marijuana.

But even back then, this reduction in traditional prescription drugs amounted to some $165.2 million annually, according to the research. They estimate that if all 50 states had had legalized marijuana in 2013, the savings would have been on the order of $468 million.

Another finding was that the mere legalization of marijuana drove more people to seek treatment for a wide variety of ailments. For example, glaucoma is treatable with marijuana, but the pressure that builds up behind the eye needs to be alleviated every hour or so. Since smoking marijuana every hour is impractical–if you plan to get anything done that day–prescription drugs are also recommended.

The team found that the use prescription drugs for glaucoma rose during the same period, as did google searches linked to glaucoma and marijuana.

All in all, the study is a hopeful sign that sanity is prevailing in the U.S., at least in this one narrow area, taking us from a chemical-based lifestyle to a plant-based one.

Now if only we can spread that philosophy.

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