Data about medication spending is anaylzed.
A hepatitis C treatment and a form of insulin led Medicare drug spending, adding up to more than $11 billion in 2015, according to an update of a federal database that highlights the drugs the government spent the most money on overall and per person — and which ones had the biggest price increases.
Of particular concern is a rise in price of some generics, a class of drugs that are intended to decrease drug prices and spending. Drugs that were responsible for large amounts of overall spending tended to see smaller increases that gradually increased the government outlay. In one outlier, the price of the hepatitis C treatment Harvoni decreased slightly in 2015, even as it led overall spending.
In total, Medicare paid $137.4 billion on drugs covered by its prescription drug benefit in 2015, according to the data. About $8.7 billion of that spending occurred on drugs that had “large” price hikes, defined as a more than 25 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. In 2015, Medicaid paid $57.3 billion — about $5.1 billion of which was spent on drugs that had large price increases.
There’s one huge caveat to these numbers: They do not include the impact of rebates, which are prohibited by law from being released. Those discounts can be significant, and not knowing what they are means the numbers almost certainly overstate how much the government actually paid for these drugs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services disclosed that, on average, rebates for brand name drugs were 17.5 percent for medicines covered by Medicare’s “part D” prescription drug benefit in 2014. A separate study published in October by the QuintilesIMS Institute found that discounts across a dozen therapy classes are 35 percent.
|Read Full Article: Drugs for hepatitis C and diabetes drove Medicare spending in 2015 – The Washington Post|