- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new online spending database for Medicare prescription Part B and D drugs, revealing seven drugs which doubled in price over the past year.
- CMS hopes to provide make Medicare prescription drug spending more transparent through the database, which it calls a 'dashboard.' The dashboard provides the total spending, total annual spending per user, and annual change in price for 80 drugs.
- These 80 drugs represented 33% of all Part D spending and 71% of Part B drug spending in 2014.
According to the CMS analysis, the most frequently prescribed drug for Medicare beneficiaries last year was AstraZeneca's statin Crestor. With a total spend of over $2.5 billion, 1.7 million Medicare beneficiaries used the drug in 2014.
By comparison, only 33,000 Medicare beneficiaries received the hep C med Sovaldi, yet the total spend was close to $3 billion. The highest-cost drug in the program was Remodulin, used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The annual cost per user topped $133,000 per year, with roughly 1,200 Medicare enrollees receiving the drug.
Seven drugs increased more than 100% in average cost per unit, although most of the seven increased sharply from a very low average unit cost.
While the data does not reflect net prices paid to manufacturers after rebates and discounts are factored in, it does highlight the impact of specialty drug prices on overall prescription-drug spending. Additionally, the database provides more transparency into changes in average cost, as well as the cost share of total annual spending for a Medicare beneficiary.