More on Medicare & Medicaid

CMS adds consumer transparency on drug spending, shows major spikes in some drug costs

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services adds Medicaid drug spending, manufacturer rebate to consumer website.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is adding new information on Medicaid drug spending and prescription manufacturer rebates to its interactive consumer website to increase transparency.

CMS launched the drug spending dashboard last year for consumers to track the price of high spend drugs purchased for Medicare Part B and D.

Drug spending is projected to increase 6.7 percent annually through 2025, CMS said.

HIMSS20 Digital

Learn on-demand, earn credit, find products and solutions. Get Started >>

Total prescription drug costs that year were estimated at $457 billion, representing 16.7 percent of personal health spending.

This is an increase of 15.4 percent, from $367 billion, in 2012.

[Also: Prescription drug prices, out-of-pocket spending top healthcare priorities list for voters]

Drugs rapidly increasing in price include EpiPen insulin medication. Mylan upped the price of the EpiPen by 400 percent. Spending on EpiPens rose by more than 500 percent from 2011 to 2015, CMS said.

Some companies hike prices by combining two cheaper products into one, higher-priced drug, CMS said.

Now it's added what drugs cost Medicaid. Drugs purchased for Medicaid cost a total of $57 billion in 2015.

The highest total Medicaid spend on a single drug in 2015 was Harvoni, the brand name for the hepatitis C virus treatment. It overtook Abilify, used to treat schizophrenia, depression and other illnesses, which had the highest spend between 2011 and 2014.

The Medicaid top five includes Abilify, Harvoni, Humira Pen, Lantus Solostar and Vyvanse.

[Also: Humana, Cigna, other insurers targeted in lawsuit over alleged discrimination in drug coverage]

The cost of Ativan, a drug used to treat anxiety, skyrocketed 1,264 percent between 2014 and 2015, CMS said. Five other drugs had a cost increase of more than 300 percent.

Medicaid spending on 20 drugs more than doubled from $146 million in 2014 to $486 million in 2015.

CMS also released findings on Medicare Part D spending.

The top five Part D drugs by cost are Spiriva, Advair Diskus, Crestor, Lantus Solostar and Harvoni.

[Also: Hospital inpatient drug spending skyrockets more than 20 percent, report says]

Glumetza, which manages high blood sugar, saw its average cost increase 381 percent between 2014 and 2015. There were three other drugs whose costs spiked more than 200 percent, CMS said.

In total, more than $16 billion in manufacturer rebates for brand name drugs were collected by Medicare Part D plans in 2014 for an average rebate of 17.5 percent.

Among the Medicare Part D brand name drugs listed in the 2014 dashboard, the average manufacturer rebate was 17.8 percent.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse