Medical cannabis has likely made a serious dent in the prescription drug industry – to the tune of $165 million in market share in 2013, according to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs.
The study’s authors examined prescription information filled by Medicare Part D enrollees between 2010-2013. They looked specifically at ailments that could have been alternatively treated by cannabis, such as depression, anxiety, nausea, pain and glaucoma, Medical News Today reported.
As of 2013, 17 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., had legalized medical marijuana.
The analysis found that during those three years, the use of prescription medication took a nosedive. Daily doses of prescription drugs for pain shrunk by 1,826, for example, while doses for depression went down by 265.
The researchers estimated that the reduced reliance on prescription drugs equated to a savings of $165 million. The findings indicate the money is instead going toward medical cannabis as an alternative treatment.
The same study also estimated that if the entire United States had legalized MMJ in 2013, the populace would have saved $468 million that year on prescription drugs, much of which probably would have gone to cannabis sales.