CMS Unveils New Medicare Rx Drug Spending Dashboard
The Medicare Drug Spending Dashboard includes information on 80 drugs paid for under Medicare Parts B and D (Dickson, Modern Healthcare, 12/21).
Prescription drug prices have garnered increased attention recently, as individuals have struggled with the costs. Some cancer drugs and medications for other difficult-to-treat diseases have come under particular scrutiny. Prescription drug prices increased by 13% in 2014, marking the largest growth in such prices since 2001.
The administration in November held a public forum to address increasing prescription drug prices in the U.S. (Rosenfeld, "Road to Reform," California Healthline, 11/25).
According to the Washington Post, drugs were included in the Medicare database if they:
- Experienced significant price increases;
- Had high levels of per-patient spending; or
- Were among the top 15 in total spending in either Part B or Part D.
The data, which do not reflect patient rebates, account for 2014 drug spending information (Goldstein, Washington Post, 12/21). Individuals can use the data to compare trends in use and pricing over the last five years (The Hill, 12/21). CMS plans to update the data regularly.
CMS said it released the dashboard "to provide additional information, increase transparency and address the affordability of prescription drugs" (Loftus, Wall Street Journal, 12/21).
Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt wrote in a blog post, "By sharing this information and allowing people to analyze the data, we can increase the knowledge around drug spending and support efforts that are evaluating whether public dollars are being spent most effectively" (Modern Healthcare, 12/21).
Data Show Increase in Spending
According to the Journal , the data show that Medicare spending on prescription drugs grew by 16.9% in 2014, up from 9.5% growth in 2013 (Wall Street Journal, 12/21).
The 80 drugs included in the database accounted for about $55 billion of Medicare prescription drug spending last year, which equaled about 40% of the $140 billion Medicare spent prescription drugs overall in 2014 (Washington Post, 12/21). By program, the drugs accounted for:
- 71% of Medicare Part B prescription drug spending in 2014; and
- 33% of all Medicare Part D spending last year.
The data show that price spikes among certain prescription drugs contributed to higher spending last year, compared with 2013. For example, the painkiller Vimovo experienced a 500% increase in cost-per-unit (Wall Street Journal, 12/21). Other costly drugs included:
- Sovaldi, a hepatitis C treatment, which accounted for about $3 billion in Medicare spending; and
- Crestor, a cholesterol drug, which accounted for $2.5 billion in spending (Modern Healthcare, 12/21).