Fourteen different drugs topped the $1 billion mark in 2013, among them well-known names like Nexium, Crestor and Cymbalta. This information published as part of a new dataset released on April 30 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The report gathered an unprecedented level of information from more than one million health care providers who collectively prescribed $103 billion in prescription drugs under the program.
2013 is the most recent year for which CMS has data on drug usage and costs for the 36 million people who are enrolled in the Part D program (approximately 68 percent of all Medicare patients). The data accounts for the total number of prescriptions that were dispensed, including original prescriptions and any refills, and the total drug cost paid by beneficiaries, part D plans and other sources.
Among other data points, the report tracked prescription methods by Hospital Referral Regions, identifying which states have the lowest generic dispensing rate (Texas, Alaska and Hawaii all made the list) and which states have the highest rate (Washington, Oregon, and much of the West coast, among others).
CMS was clear about the intent behind making this data public: to lower spending on prescription drugs. Their fact sheet on the data notes, “This new dataset provides key information to consumers, providers, researchers, and other stakeholders to help drive transformation of the health care delivery system. This data enables a wide range of analyses on the type of prescription drugs prescribed in the Medicare Part D program, and on prescription drug utilization and spending generally.”
For the ten costliest drugs paid for by Medicare Part D in 2013, read on.
1. Nexium (Gastrointestinal)
Number of beneficiaries: 1,484,011
Number of claims: 8,192,362
Total drug cost (in billions): $2.53
Image: NEXIUM(TM) (esomeprazole magnesium) 40 mg and 20 mg 30-count capsule bottles. (PRNewsFoto/AstraZeneca)
2. Advair Diskus (Asthma)
Number of beneficiaries: 1,527,217
Number of claims: 6,605,423
Total drug cost (in billions): $2.26
Image: In this Oct. 15, 2013 file photo, Carter Howard sits and watches a cartoon during his asthma treatment at his home in Northbrook, Ill. A new survey suggests asthma in the U.S. may finally be on the decline, according to the findings from a large national health survey conducted in 2013. The report was released by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
3. Crestor (Cardiovascular drugs)
Number of beneficiaries: 1,732,787
Number of claims: 9,066,409
Total drug cost (in billions): $2.22
Image: Greg Ameo, a 53 year old retired transit worker, poses for a photograph in his garage at this home in the Bronx borough of New York, Thursday, June 19, 2008. Like many men his age, Ameo struggles with high blood pressure and cholesterol. He hates pills, but accepts them grudgingly. He eats healthier than he used to and takes walks for exercise. He takes fish oil and garlic, in case they might help with the cholesterol. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
4. Abilify (Psychotherapeutic drug)
Number of beneficiaries: 396,764
Number of claims: 2,886,837
Total drug cost (in billions): $2.11
Image: A sign stands in front of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company’s headquarters in Lawrence Township, N.J., Wednesday, June 15, 2005. Bristol-Myers Squibb, along with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, is the maker of Abilify. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
5. Cymbalta (Psychotherapeutic drug)
Number of beneficiaries: 1,032,774
Number of claims: 6,887,543