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Hepatitis C drug again tops Part D spend list at $7 billion

CMS posts $137 billion in Part D prescription drug data, an increase from $121 billion spent the year before.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

At $7 billion, Harvoni, a drug used to treat hepatitis C, topped the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services list for the largest spend on Medicare Part D drugs in 2015.

Of the 75,709 Medicare beneficiaries who received the drug, 34,028 were age 65 or over.  Harvoni was not in a top ten spot in Part D data released last year for 2014.

[Also: Insurers more likely to cover new drugs, treatment of hepatitis C for children]

The number one spot last year belonged to Solvaldi, which is also used to treat hepatitis C. It had the highest drug spend at $3.1 billion.

This year Solvaldi is in the number 15 slot at $1.3 billion.

The second most costly drug in 2015 is Crestor to treat high cholesterol, at $2.88 billion, followed closely by the insulin pen Lantus Solostar by $2.4 billion.

Filling out the top ten in costs respectively from $2.26 billion to $1.76 billion are Advair Diskus  for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Spiriva, also for COPD, Januvia for diabetes, Revlimid, a chemotherapy treatment, Nexium for acid reflux, Lantus for diabetes and Lyrica for nerve pain.

[Also: EpiPen payments by Medicare Part D have risen 1,000% since 2007, Kaiser Family Foundation finds]

The CMS prescription list is based on data from more than one million healthcare providers who collectively prescribed $137 billion in Part D drugs in 2015.

In 2014, over 1 million healthcare providers collectively prescribed approximately $121 billion in prescription Part D drugs. That number was $103 billion in 2013.

[Also: Medicare Part D spending up more than 17% in 2014 as drug prices rise]

In the number two spot in 2014 was, Nexium, followed by Crestor,  Abilify, to treat depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Advair Diskus, Spiriva, Lantus Solostar, Januvia; Lantus and Revlimid.

The data used information from Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans and stand-alone prescription drug plans.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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