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Medicare Makes Drug Spending Numbers Known

Medicare recently released the numbers on its drug spending, revealing that Medicare and its beneficiaries spent a total of $103 billion on pharmaceutical drugs in 2013. Learn more about the recently released data, including the top drugs by cost, in our blog.

medicare-drug-spending

Medicare spent $103 billion on pharmaceutical drugs in 2013.

Medicare Makes Drug Spending Numbers Known

Medicare released the numbers at the end of April, and said that while they had been studying the data since it had been complied, they hoped that by making the data public that it would allow other parties to make their own interpretations and hopefully provide additional insights. This includes “new revelations about the prescribing patterns of doctors and for particular drugs. The database identifies doctors by name,” according to Kaiser Health News.

It’s important to note that this data only covers drugs for “36 million beneficiaries that were billed to Medicare’s Part D program, which make up 68 percent of all the people on Medicare.” Privately insured patients, and those covered by Medicaid were not included. In addition, any rebates the government received on these drugs were not included in the price figures given.

The Most Frequently Prescribed Drugs

These were the top 3 most frequently prescribed drugs in 2013.

Lisinopril – Used to treat high blood pressure.

  • 36.9 million prescriptions were written to 7 million beneficiaries.

Simvastatin – Used to lower high blood pressure.

  • 36.7 million prescriptions were written to 7 million beneficiaries.

Levothyroxine Sodium – Treats hyperthyroidism.

  • 35.2 milion prescriptions were written to 5.7 million beneficiaries.

The Most Expensive Drugs

So what drugs cost Medicare the most money in 2013? Here are the top 3:

Nexium – Used to treat heartburn and acid reflux.

  • Nexium cost Medicare $2.5 billion in 2013.
  • Nearly 1.5 million beneficiaries received at least one prescription for Nexium.

Advair – Treats symptoms of asthma and COPD.

  • Advair cost Medicare $2.26 billion in 2013.
  • 1.53 million beneficiaries received at least one prescription for Advair.

Crestor – Used to lower cholesterol levels.

  • Crestor cost Medicare $2.22 billion in 2013.
  • 1.73 million beneficiaries received at least one prescription for Crestor.

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