Johns Hopkins Health Alert
What Is a Lifestyle Drug?
There is no official definition for lifestyle drugs, but generally speaking they are medications designed to improve a person's quality of life by treating less serious conditions that some individuals believe are not life threatening.
Antidepressant medications make up the largest percentage of the lifestyle drug market, followed by oral contraceptives and treatments for sexual dysfunction, smoking addiction, obesity, skin aging, and hair loss. Insurers do not pay for certain lifestyle drugs, such as those for baldness or wrinkles. But they may reimburse for certain others, like drugs for erectile dysfunction.
Popular lifestyle drugs are sildenafil (Viagra) and similar medications, Botox, bupropion (Zyban) for smoking cessation, and the weight-loss aid orlistat (Xenical) and its lower-strength, over-the-counter version, Alli. Despite the out-of-pocket cost to users, the market for lifestyle drugs continues to grow. Pharmaceutical companies have invested heavily in research to develop them.
While lifestyle drugs may seem more benign than conventional medications, they can still pose a hazard. If you are prescribed one of these drugs, be sure to fully discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Posted in Prescription Drugs on October 6, 2009
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