Wednesday, 25 Apr 2018

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Medicare Drug Prices Jump Ten Times the Inflation Rate

CNN reports that a new congressional analysis of Medicare drug pricing shows the prices of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs have risen nearly 10 times the annual rate of inflation in the past five years. (Citation source: http://bit.ly/2pInEnq)

The report entitled, "Manufactured Crisis: How devastating drug price increases are harming America's seniors," was authored by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, who has been investigating escalating drug prices in the past year.

There is growing concern by McCaskil and others in congress over rising drug costs and its impact on the health and finances of an aging US population. 

The report examined the costs of the 20 most-prescribed drugs under the Medicare Part D program from 2012 to 2017. In this 5 year span the cost of common drugs skyrocketed:

  • Nitrostat, had the largest percentage change of 477%.
  • Zostavax, had the lowest percentage increase but still increased 31% over five years.
  • 12/20 drugs had price increases of > 50% and 6/20 had price increases > 100% over the last 5 years.
  • Prices increased for every brand-name drug of the top 20 most-prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors in the last five years. On average, prices for these drugs increased 12 percent every year for the last five years—approximately ten times higher than the average annual rate of inflation.
  • Even with 48 million fewer prescriptions (of the top 20 drugs) between 2012 to 2017, total sales increased by almost $8.5 billion.

By law, Medicare is not allowed to directly negotiate drug prices, which critics say results in the government spending tens of billions of dollars unnecessarily. Democrats have long pushed for Medicare to be able to negotiate on pricing, while Republicans have opposed such measures.

President Trump has vowed to "make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities."

 

 

Disclosures: 
The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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