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New demogrpahics harbinger of success.

NEW YORK--The burgeoning population of older Americans is driving sales of a wide range of products in chain drug stores.

From home health care items to dietary supplements for memory loss, drug chains are reaping the benefits of the new demographics.

Thirteen percent of the United States population now is over age 65. That share is expected to grow dramatically to about 20% by 2020. Concurrently there will be increased costs for health care maintenance, stemming from chronic and age related health complications. Currently 80% of American women between the ages of 65 and 85 report at least one chronic disease, such as diabetes, arthritis or hypertension. Half report more than one chronic illness and one-fourth report three or more chronic conditions.

Retailers, says Walgreen Co. president and chief operating officer Dave Bernauer, are facing "the most stunning demographic shift ever experienced on earth." He notes that male life expectancy has risen from 48 at the turn of the century to 67 in 1970 to 80 now.

"It's amazing to think that we have gone from 48 to 80 in 100 years," Bernauer remarks. "Think about this -- two-thirds of all men and women who've ever lived past 65 in the history of the world are alive today."

One upshot of the demographic shift is that the fastest growing segment of the booming U.S. health care industry is the home health care market, and chain drug stores are reaping the benefits.

By 2010 -- in less than a decade -- expenditures for home health care are projected to skyrocket an astounding 110%. That compares with 85% growth expected for overall health care industry expenditures during the same period.

The graying of America will place tremendous strains on the health care industry, authorities say. As the baby boomers grow older they will have increased health care needs. And the in hospital system of caring for them will not be able to cope with the sheer patient numbers or the escalating costs, they note.

The home health care community, including chain drug stores, will have to make up the difference, the experts add. And technology and medical care trends, including the ability of patients to buy home health care products with the expert advice of pharmacists, are blending in preparation.

Some 12000 organizations will provide home health care services to more than 8 million patients in the U.S. this year alone. As hospital in-patient care costs continue to rise and third-party payers demand cost savings, patients increasingly are scheduled for health care services at home.

The home health care industry has averaged 15% per year growth for the last 20 years. It is projected that the home health care market, which will be about $41 billion this year, will soar to $87 billion in nine years.

[Graph omitted]

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Title Annotation:Growing older population
Comment:New demogrpahics harbinger of success.(Growing older population)
Author:Walden, Geoff
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 5, 2001
Words:465
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